Two late tries earned Northampton a place in the English Premiership final with a 21-20 victory over Leicester.
Northampton were trailing 17-9 and a man down after tighthead prop Salesi Ma'afu had been red-carded for punching Tom Youngs, but with 16 minutes to go Wales wing George North was the beneficiary of a lineout drive, which with the conversion from Stephen Myler cut the deficit to one. Then at 20-16 and three minutes remaining,Tom Wood spun out of a tackle to score in the corner.
In a chaotic but enthralling match, which also saw three yellow cards, Leicester set off at a cracking pace with tries by Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs, to lead 17-6 at half-time. They held that lead despite the fact that for 20 minutes they had played with a man in the sin bin. Tom Youngs was also to spend 10 minutes on the sideline for his contribution to the fracas with Ma'afu, but Northampton emerged the stronger from the 14-man game.
They now await the second semi-final, between Saracens and Harlequins, which will be played on Saturday.
Northampton – Tries: George North, Tom Wood. Conversion: Stephen Myler. Penalties: Myler (3).
Leicester – Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs. Conversions: Flood (2). Penalties: Flood, Owen Williams.
Northampton – 15 Ben Foden, 14 Tom Collins, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kan Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Subs: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Christian Day, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 James Wilson, 23 Tom Stephenson.
Leicester – 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Ed Slater (c), 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Subs: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Steve Mafi, 21 David Mele, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Adam Thompstone.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images