Northampton atoned for their chastening opening-weekend rout by Saracens by shifting the spotlight on to Leicester’s poor start to the season in a comprehensive 24-11 victory.
England forwards Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes were at the forefront of a precious East Midlands derby win at Franklin’s Gardens eight days after leaking nine tries in a 55-24 mauling by the European champions at Twickenam.
That result was a sobering start to their 2017-18 Aviva Premiership campaign, but they responded by ending a run of seven successive defeats to their bitter rivals in all competitions dating back to 2014.
Luther Burrell, Hartley and Tom Collins ran in tries, but it was the hard-working Lawes who stole the show through his work-rate and carrying from his occasional home of blindside flanker.
Only an injury to George North marred the afternoon’s work, the Wales wing departing after taking the second of two heavy knocks.
The optimism that accompanied Leicester’s pre-season has now evaporated amid two defeats and in Northampton they also lost captain Tom Young to a head injury assessment.
Another possible cloud on the horizon is the failure to withdraw Dominic Ryan for an HIA despite the replacement back row taking a significant blow while tackling North – an incident sure to interest the concussion management review group.
In their eagerness to make amends for their collapse at Twickenham, Northampton started like a freight train and profited from an accurate counter when a rare Leicester attack ended with a knock on.
Lock Michael Paterson played a key role in the move and once North and Lawes were held up just short, Saints went wide where Burrell was stationed for an easy run-in.
Lawes was penalised for lifting Jonny May in the act of tackling his England team-mate but Leicester’s attempt at taking a grip on the game ended immediately when they failed to release, allowing Northampton to attack once more.
George Ford missed a routine penalty and the Tigers were back under pressure with Lawes continuing to punch holes as a carrier and North reviving the threat with a mazy run until Hartley forced his way over from close range.
With Harry Mallinder kicking both conversions, Northampton led 14-0, but for the first time their line was in danger when Ford found Telusa Veainu with a clever chip.
Saints’ defence was alert, however, and Leicester comforted themselves with a penalty from England’s fly-half.
The first half ended with Northampton pounding away at the whitewash and after declining shots at goal on three occasions, Mallinder finally opted for the posts when JP Doyle intervened for a fourth time.
Leicester showed greater appetite early in the second-half but their afternoon continued to deteriorate when Mike Williams was sin-binned for a shoulder tackle on Paul Hill.
The clock was ticking against the Tigers, who could make little impression on the game despite a Ford penalty.
When Collins used his pace and vision to scamper over from 30 metres out the result was beyond doubt, but there was still time for May’s speed to engineer a consolation try.