Premiership final as it happened

Leicester beat 14-man Northampton 37-17 at Twickenham to clinch their 10th English title.

25 May 2013 Last updated at 17:55

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As it happened

  1. 1730: 

    While you ponder everything that happened, it's time to draw our live coverage of the Aviva Premiership final to a close here on the BBC Sport website. Many thanks for joining me - it's fair to say, I couldn't have done it without you.

    If you would like to relive the action, please do check out Chris Osborne's splendid report.

    But until next time, it's goodbye.

  2. 1728: 

    So there we have it. Leicester are English champions once more, ending a run of two successive Premiership final defeats.

    The 81,703-strong crowd will undoubtedly be questioning how decisive that red card for Northampton captain Dylan Hartley on the stroke of half-time was. We'll never know of course, but it surely played a big part, although Leicester lost their own skipper Toby Flood through injury earlier on.


    Leicester's retiring full-back Geordan Murphy told BBC Radio 5 Live's Alastair Eykyn:

    "Its amazing, the guys worked so hard. Credit to Northampton for fighting like they did but we got great turnover ball and that finished it off.

    "It's nerve wracking to lose your captain and 10 [Toby Flood] but George Ford was brilliant. Of course the sending-off changed the game but I think the referee had no option.

    "I think I would rather be in kit every day of the week but I am fortunate that I will be able to contribute as a coach. I've had a wonderful 16 years playing for a great club and I'm over the moon to go out on such a high."


    BBC East Sport's Chris Osborne at Twickenham:

    "Leicester are dancing in the Twickenham sunshine after outclassing 14-man Northampton.

    "Would it have been different had Dylan Hartley stayed on the pitch? We'll never know, but it would have been closer."


    Leicester Tigers' Tom Youngs told ESPN:

    "It's massive. We work all year - it's an 11-month job. You get to the biggest stage here and then to win like that - it wasn't great at times but it was fantastic to pull through."

    Leicester's Ben Youngs:

    "We've been to final lots of times now and we've lost a fair few, so this year we really wanted to win it. Sometimes we've saved our worst performances for the finals so this year we wanted to get it right and I think we did."

    Ian Robertson, BBC rugby union correspondent

    "Leicester won the Premiership in 2001 and 2002 before Wasps were the dominating team winning three on the bounce. After losing in the final the last two seasons they've now proved they are not just a team that gets to finals - they are a team that deserves to be champions."


    Leicester centre Anthony Allen told BBC Radio 5 Live's Alastair Eykyn: "I'm overwhelmed. It was a fantastic effort and really tough at times when we were under the cosh but the boys thoroughly deserved the win. It was a big ask for Fordy (George Ford) to come on after only 20 minutes but he's stepped up all season when Toby Flood has been away with England and today he has put in a massive performance. We're champions and I'm just so proud."

  8. 1708: 

    A reminder that you can now watch the Pro12 final between Ulster and Leinster on the BBC Sport website. But please stay with us for the post-match reaction from Twickenham.

  9. 80 mins: 
    FULL-TIME- Leicester 37-17 Northampton

    And there goes the final whistle, confirming what we already knew. It's all over and it's joy for Leicester. They bag a record 10th English title, and a well-deserved 10th title at that. Bravo.

  10. 80 mins: 
    PENALTY- Leicester 37-17 Northampton

    George Ford has a penalty from 40 metres. Time is up on the clock. Ford splits the posts and adds icing to that Tigers cake. Leicester are Premiership champions!

  11. 79 mins: 
    Leicester 34-17 Northampton

    Tigers playing keep-ball. They're 60 seconds away now.

  12. 78 mins: 
    Leicester 34-17 Northampton

    Now Manu Tuilagi goes racing through, but the Northampton defence just about manages to shepherd him away from danger. It's turned into a bit of a procession but, you have to say, it's harsh on Saints. They've battled so well, yet are going to come up short.

    Brian Moore, BBC Sport

    "This is sad because the score is not reflective of the game, it's reflective of the utter stupidity of Saints captain Dylan Hartley. That said, I feel it would have been a very different story had Northampton scored the two tries they should have in the first half."


    BBC East Sport's Chris Osborne at Twickenham:

    "It's been gutsy from Saints, but guts was never going to be enough.

    "Leicester have been patient and professional and are now taking pot shots at the tiring Northampton defence. Dylan Hartley will have a lot of explaining to do to his team-mates."

  15. 74 mins: 
    TRY- Leicester 34-17 Northampton

    As introductions go that's right up there. He's only been on for 30 seconds but Leicester's Steve Mafi picks up out wide - his first touch of the ball - and cleverly switches inside to Vereniki Goneva, who does the rest. George Ford misses the conversion but you can't imagine it'll matter now - the Tigers are roaring at Twickenham.


    Some more substitutions to tell you about. Leicester bring off Dan Cole, Tom Youngs and Jordan Crane for Martin Castrogiovanni, Rob Hawkins and Steve Mafi. Northampton make four changes - Ben Foden, Lee Dickson, Phil Dowson and Stephen Myler have left the field for George Pisi, Martin Roberts, Ben Nutley and Ryan Lamb.


    Chris King: That's why Manu has to start for the Lions. Quiet all game and then boom! Game over!

  18. 70 mins: 
    Leicester 29-17 Northampton

    Leicester are keeping a degree of control on this final now - they're now just 10 minutes away from the Premiership title.

    Matt Dawson, BBC Radio 5 live

    "That should wrap it up. Take yourself back to England v New Zealand in the autumn and you'll see an absolute carbon copy score from Manu Tuilagi. Same try, same celebration and, I think, it will be the same result for his team."

  20. 66 mins: 
    TRY- Leicester 29-17 Northampton

    Here comes Mathew Tait again, bursting up the pitch from full-back. Manu Tuilagi picks up and drives forward but is stopped in his tracks. Leicester continue to recycle and Tuilagi gets hold of the ball once more, only this time there's no stopping him. He runs in from long range and, frankly, when he stretches his legs like that nobody is catching up. The conversion is missed, but Tigers are in the driving seat here.


    In among all the madness of this crazy Premiership final, there have been a few replacements we should tell you about.

    To recap, Leicester have brought Ed Slater on for Graham Kitchener. Northampton have replaced Christian Day, Brian Mujati, who's making his last appearance for Saints today, Soane Tonga'uiha and Jamie Elliott with Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Tom Mercey, Alex Waller and Mike Haywood. Worth noting Northampton have also put an extra man back into the scrum, as they had been operating with seven.


    Lyndsey Wright: This game doesn't stop. They said it would be a cracker, they weren't wrong!

  23. 57 mins: 
    CONVERTED TRY- Leicester 24-17 Northampton

    Ben Foden is at it again, charging through to earn some crucial yards. Saints recycle the ball quickly and suddenly a huge overlap is on. Luther Burrell finds Dickson and he dives over. Burrell's pass needed looking at, but it's fine and Northampton have the try. Stephen Myler converts and Saints are back in it. That said, this game is so back and forth, I'm not sure they were ever even out of it.

  24. 57 mins: 
    TRY REVIEW- Leicester 24-10 Northampton

    Lee Dickson dives over to give Saints hope again. But will it count? It's TMO time...

  25. 53 mins: 
    PENALTY- Leicester 24-10 Northampton

    That could and perhaps should have been another Leicester try. George Ford throws in a side-step and bursts through. He reaches the five-yard line but Saints get back to him, albeit infringing in the process. Ford bags himself three points instead.

    Alastair Eykyn, BBC Radio 5 live

    "Just going back to the Dylan Hartley incident, he will now have to face an RFU disciplinary hearing. I do not think he will be able to board the plane to Hong Kong with the Lions on Monday. It will be Tuesday at the earliest before his case is heard and you would think a ban will come too. This story is far from over - his Lions place is in real jeopardy."

  27. 47 mins: 
    TRY- Leicester 21-10 Northampton

    That didn't last long, did it? Leicester's scrum works well again, Graham Kitchener has the ball in hand 10 metres out and, although he considers shifting the ball wide, he steps inside instead and drives over the line. He saved his side in the first half with that try-denying tackle on Foden, and he's just landed a crucial score early in the second. George Ford's conversion misses the target.

    Matt Dawson, BBC Radio 5 live

    "What a response from Northampton, they have to keep hold of the ball and get it wide, it's all they can do with a man less - they've no option but to go for broke. If Leicester thought this was over then they'll have quickly realised the Saints have other ideas."

  29. 43 mins: 
    TRY- Leicester 16-10 Northampton
    Ben Foden scores

    They may have lost their skipper, but Northampton certainly haven't lost their belief. Quite simply, the best possible start to the second period. Saints switch the ball from right to left - replacement Mike Haywood in the middle of it all - and Ben Foden races over in the corner. It's a fantastic try at a fantastic time. Stephen Myler's conversion drifts wide.

  30. 1612: 
    KICK-OFF- Leicester 16-5 Northampton

    Here we go then. Northampton's Stephen Myler gets us underway for the second half. We're 40 minutes from history - a record 10th English crown for Leicester or a first Premiership title in Northampton's history?


    BBC East Sport's Chris Osborne at Twickenham:

    "A bizarre and thunderous finish to the half. After the confusion over whether Saints could kick out to finish the half, the referee has said he has heard Northampton captain Dylan Hartley use abusive language and call him a cheat.

    "Not only do Leicester extend their lead, they face a 14-man team devoid of their captain in the second half."

  32. 1605: 

    In 12 Premiership finals before today, remarkably no side has ever overturned a bigger deficit than three points to lift the title. If Northampton wish to make history here they really are going to have to do it the hard way.


    Liam Sharpe: Hartley sent off for swearing at a referee. Football, take note.

    Sahar Zivan: I hope Hartley brings a cushion so he won't get cold during the Lions Tour. Tom Youngs must be laughing right now.

    Brian Moore, BBC Sport

    "It's Dylan Hartley's own fault. Not only is it half-witted and wrong to talk to a referee like that but he doesn't know the rules of the game. Northampton kicked the ball straight out from a 22-drop-out which is completely stupid. Yes, Leicester pushed early at that scrum and the referee fell for it but Hartley is captain and he has let his team down. The referee clearly told him it was his last chance after earlier dissent and has had to follow that through."

    HALF-TIME- Leicester 16-5 Northampton

    What to make of all of that? Leicester started the better, Northampton roared back, but the match could well now be defined by that moment on the stroke of half-time. Saints down to 14 and it looks a long way back from here.

  36. 40 mins: 
    PENALTY- Leicester 16-5 Northampton

    Leicester have a penalty in front of the posts and Ford lands the three-pointer. The suggestion is Hartley was given his marching orders for dissent. It's the first red card in a Premiership final, and could there be a more dramatic end to an amazing half of rugby?

  37. 40 mins: 
    RED CARD- Leicester 13-5 Northampton
    Dylan Hartley sent off

    What's going on here? The half-time entertainment children are getting ready to charge onto the pitch but there'll be another scrum before the break. And, amazingly, Saints captain Dylan Hartley has been shown a red card. He can't believe it. Confusion at Twickenham.

  38. 39 mins: 
    MISSED PENALTY- Leicester 13-5 Northampton

    Saints concede a penalty in the aftermath of the aforementioned scrum and George Ford has an opportunity to kick for goal. It drops wide though, and that should be that going into the break...

  39. 38 mins: 
    Leicester 13-5 Northampton

    Jamie Elliott is adjudged to have sent his pass forward and Leicester have a scrum on half-way. Elliott has 10 Premiership tries to his name this season and he's just starting to show up in this final too.

    Matt Dawson, BBC Radio 5 live

    "Northampton don't have any shape here so every time they are opening a gap there isn't anyone in support - they are running themselves ragged. Leicester can defend all day, they're so organised that they can absorb pressure, break and put points on the board. It might look like the Tigers are clinging on for half-time but Jim Mallinder, not Richard Cockerill, will be the coach that is desperate to get his team in the dressing room."

  41. 35 mins: 
    NO TRY- Leicester 13-5 Northampton

    Wowzer, that was tight. Jamie Elliott somehow feeds Ben Foden before stepping out of play, and just as it looks as though Saints have themselves a try, Graham Kitchener pulls off another show-stopping tackle on the try-line and, in the process, even incredibly reaches a hand out to stop the ball being grounded. He has saved his team there. It was a tough call though for TMO Graham Hughes.

  42. 35 mins: 
    TRY REVIEW- Leicester 13-5 Northampton

    Northampton's Ben Foden thinks he has a try. We're going upstairs...

  43. 34 mins: 
    Leicester 13-5 Northampton

    This is breathless stuff. Now Northampton have an opportunity to get clear thanks to Vereniki Goneva's steal, but the move peters out as quickly as it got started.

    Matt Dawson, BBC Radio 5 live

    "That should have been a stroll in for Leicester! Beautiful running from Matthew Tait, gliding his way through. It's a fabulous 50 metre break but then you need to give that inside pass for a score under the posts. Yes, they've come away with three points but it could have been a lot worse for the Saints."

  45. 32 mins: 
    PENALTY- Leicester 13-5 Northampton

    Leicester steal the line-out for the first time. Now, that's brilliant from Mathew Tait. He breaks and makes the best part of 50 metres down the right-hand side, but then after that good work can't pick out a green shirt quickly enough and it's a lost opportunity. Tigers earn a penalty though and Ford converts - they have breathing space once more.

  46. 30 mins: 
    Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Jordan Crane, who now has the armband, takes the ball at the line-out. Tuilagi breaks but is then halted. Ford kicks for touch but the ball goes long, much to his frustration. That was unlucky.


    BBC East Sport's Chris Osborne at Twickenham:

    "Courtney Lawes's methods may not be the most scrupulous, but Leicester are now without their England fly-half and look rattled amid this Northampton onslaught."

  48. 27 mins: 
    Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Saints have the scrum five yards out but Leicester hold strong and earn a penalty. George Ford kicks for touch and they'll be glad to get the ball away from their own try-line.

  49. 25 mins: 
    Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Northampton are now on top. Another successful line-out, and the ball finds its way to Ben Foden down the centre. He has bodies out wide but instead goes inside and a last-ditch tackle by Graham Kitchener prevents further damage. He needed to make that hit.

  50. 24 mins: 
    SUBSTITUTION- Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Flood is clattered again by Lawes, as his attempted pass goes hopelessly out for touch. How long can the Leicester staff allow the England fly-half to continue? The answer is not long as Bath-bound George Ford comes on to take his place.

  51. 22 mins: 
    MISSED PENALTY- Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    After all that commotion, we have a penalty. Ben Youngs takes over kicking duties from his groggy captain, but drags it miles wide.

  52. 22 mins: 
    Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Cockerill has now come racing down the steps to have his say. I think he's just seen the same replay as us. Flood's final looks like it could be over, but somehow he is back to his feet and OK to continue. His head needs to be right.

    Brian Moore, BBC Sport

    "Courtney Lawes had not taken off when Toby Flood released the ball, he could easily have pulled out of the tackle but chose not to. We knew this was going to be a brutally physical game but Saints have got away with one there. Richard Cockerill has made his way down to pitchside to make his feelings known to the match officials - he is far from happy at that decision."

  54. 21 mins: 
    Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Now, we're going upstairs to check a late tackle on Toby Flood. After some deliberation the officials decide it's Courtney Lawes. In truth, he might've been sent to the sin-bin there - it looked pretty ugly on the slow-motion replay. Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill isn't happy either, no great surprise.

  55. 18 mins: 
    Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Northampton are right back in this. Toby Flood clears long and Stephen Myler kicks for touch, knowing the Northampton line-out is working well so far. What a first quarter to the final.


    BBC East Sport's Chris Osborne at Twickenham:

    "What a start we've had here. There was a feeling that the early Tigers try could have knocked the wind out of Northampton.

    "But they've pinned Leicester back and delivered an instant reply, lifting the Saints support."

    Matt Dawson, BBC Radio 5 live

    "That's more like it! It was all about the quick tap from Lee Dickson which he was scared to do five minutes ago. Saints have got to try these things if they want to win this one, they need to knock Leicester off their game by injecting pace into the game."

  58. 15 mins: 
    TRY- Leicester 10-5 Northampton

    Saints head for the corner but knock on around five yards out. Leicester have the put in at the scrum. That's better from Northampton but Leicester clear to half way. Jamie Elliott bursts through but is brought down. Tigers concede a penalty through Manu Tuilagi and Saints take it quickly, the ball finds Stephen Myler down the left, he's in at the corner and it's game on. He misses the angled conversion though.

  59. 13 mins: 
    Leicester 10-0 Northampton

    Some respite for Northampton. Manu Tuilagi is penalised for holding on and Stephen Myler kicks for touch. They need a good line-out and get one.

    Matt Dawson, BBC Radio 5 live

    "I'm really concerned here for Northampton. They have not got going and what led to that try was just bog standard stuff, kicking the ball away, playing safe. Add to that a defence at sixes and sevens and they've got no chance. Saracens did not know what had hit them early on in the semi-final - where is that Saints team?"

  61. 7 mins: 
    CONVERTED TRY- Leicester 10-0 Northampton

    What a start Leicester have made here. That all started with a scrum inside their own half. Tigers broke quickly and Toby Flood teed up Niall Morris to go over in the right corner. Flood makes no mistake with the conversion and Tigers are well and truly on top.

  62. 5 mins: 
    PENALTY- Leicester 3-0 Northampton

    Ben Foden kicks for touch and Leicester have an early line-out. Tigers have the ball in hand for the first time and draw the first penalty of the final 33 metres out. Toby Flood, directly in front of the posts, converts and Leicester have first blood.

    Brian Moore, BBC Sport

    "If Leicester get themselves ahead I think their confidence will build and build. That will mean them moving the ball wide a lot and that is where they will hurt this Saints defence."

  64. 1502: 

    Right, here we go. Wayne Barnes, refereeing a record fifth final, puffs his whistle. Leicester's Toby Flood boots high and long, Lee Dickson returns, and we're underway...

  65. 1458: 

    Worth sparing a quick thought for Saracens. They topped the table in the regular season yet won't be competing for the English title at today's Twickenham showpiece, after fourth-placed Northampton brilliantly dismantled them in the semi-finals.

    It's only the second time the Premiership's number one seeds haven't taken their place in the final - Gloucester being the other in 2008.

  66. 1455: 

    BBC East Sport's Chris Osborne at Twickenham:

    "What's worse? Getting here for the first time and losing, as could happen to Northampton, or being beaten in three consecutive finals, which could be Leicester's fate today?

    "Defeat will obviously be an irrational concept to both sides before kick-off, but Saints are undoubtedly going to need a season-defining performance if they are to upset the nine-time Premiership champions.

    "The sun is intermittently breaking through the clouds at Twickenham - hopefully these East Midlands rivals can light up rugby HQ with a dazzling final."

  67. 1452:  
    Ian Robertson, BBC rugby union correspondent

    "I won't go into the backs, it's going to be about the forwards. The back-row will be absolutely vital alongside the double-decker buses both teams have in their second-rows."

  68. 1450: 

    No late surprises with the teams, so it's as we were expecting.

    Leicester go with the same side that beat Harlequins in the semi-finals a fortnight ago. That means just six of the team that started last year's Premiership final feature from the first whistle today.

    Meanwhile, Northampton replace the injured Calum Clark with Phil Dowson. Clark, who has an ankle problem, is also now a doubt for England's tour of Uruguay and Argentina.

    Leicester Tigers: Tait; Morris, Tuilagi, Allen, Goneva; Flood (capt), Ben Youngs; Mulipola, Tom Youngs, Cole; Kitchener, Parling; Croft, Salvi, Crane.

    Replacements: Hawkins, Balmain, Castrogiovanni, Slater, Mafi, Harrison, Ford, Smith.

    Northampton Saints: Foden; Ken Pisi, Wilson, Burrell, Elliott; Myler, Dickson; Tonga'uiha, Hartley (capt), Mujati; Lawes, Day; Dowson, Wood, Manoa.

    Replacements: Haywood, Waller, Mercey, Nutley, Van Velze, Roberts, Lamb, George Pisi.

  69. 1445: 

    Leicester are in their ninth successive final after beating last season's champions Harlequins 33-16 in the semi-finals. Northampton, in contrast, have got to Twickenham for the first time after stunning Saracens 13-27 at Allianz Park. But the Tigers go into the game as strong favourites after winning both league meetings this season and the last seven encounters.

  70. 1441: 

    There will be around 82,000 fans crammed into Twickenham this afternoon. Now, I can't imagine too many of those paddled there. Especially in a modified Victorian bath. But that's exactly what Rob Knapp has done, all 110 miles worth from Rugby to London, in aid of the Matt Hampson Foundation. Well done, that man.

  71. 1438: 

    You can listen to commentary of the game on BBC Radio 5 live was well as BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio Northampton. But the Premiership final is not the only game today, with Ulster and Leinster going head-to-head in the Pro12 final in Dublin at 16:45 BST. You can watch the game later on the BBC sport website.

  72. 1435: 

    As always, we would love you to get involved. Whether you have a taste for the Tigers, support Saints, or are just a fan of the 15-man code, if you want to have your say, Tweet me at #bbcrugbyunion, drop me a line on Facebook or text me on 81111 with Rugbyunion at the start of your message and your name at the end - without it, I can't use your text.

  73. 1430: 

    It has taken nine months to sort the wheat from the chaff, but now only two teams are left standing in the race to be named England's top club rugby union team. Twickenham is the venue as Leicester Tigers face Northampton Saints in the Premiership final.