Mar 20, 2016
Saracens come up short at Welford Road
Saracens were beaten 21-13 by Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, in Sunday afternoon’s round 17 Aviva Premiership clash.
16-points from an in-form Tigers half Freddie Burns and a try from Fijian wing Niki Goneva saw off a spirited Saracens side in a scrappy contest in the East Midlands.
Alex Goode, who flew back from Paris early Sunday morning to play game, scored all of Saracens points and crossed for a second half try for the visitors.
There were three yellow cards in a niggly match in which Leicester enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession. In defeat Mark McCall can console himself with some fine individual performances, with back row forwards Kelly Brown and Jackson Wray both impressing in an attritional contest at Welford Road.
The first half for Saracens was one that was played for the majority of time in their own 22. Struggling to gain any foothold of possession or territory the visitors were under the cosh from the Tigers for the majority of the first half.
After a cagy opening ten minutes, Tigers prop forward Logovi’I Mulipola was yellow carded for an extremely poor late hit on Saracens centre Marcelo Bosch. Alex Goode stepped up to give his side the lead after 13 minutes play, only for Leicester No10 Burns to reply two minutes later to level the scores.
The Tigers were cranking up the pressure. Time after the time they threatened to score in the first half, yet steadfast Saracens defence prevented them for doing so. At the heart of the Sarries defensive stubbornness was openside flanker Kelly Brown, who covered every blade of grass on the pitch Welford Road surface in a committed display the former Scotland international.
Hunting a score after a prolonged period in the Sarries red-zone, Leicester edged in front with a Burns penalty after bombing a certain try when Adam Thompstone dropped a Vereniko Goneva pass with the line at his mercy.
After the break, the game turned on its head when outside half Nils Mordt saw yellow for a shirt pull on Tigers centre Peter Bentham after his own kick was charged down. Chasing the pacey Betham on the turn, Mordt cynically grabbed his jersey and gave Referee JP Doyle no choice but produce the yellow card.
With the numerical advantage, and being orchestrated expertly by Burns, Leicester began to move through the gears. Spotting a gap, Tigers outhalf Burns rounded substitute Petrus Du Plessis to outpace the cover to score his side’s first try. He converted his own score to give Leicester a 13-3 lead.
Next up, Niki Goneva compounded Saracens’ misery whilst the visitors were down to 14-men to score the second try of the game as the Tigers threatened to run away with the contest after 52 minutes of play.
Saracens dug-in. Goode, now up to fly-half with Ben Ransom operating from full-back, crossed for Sarries only try collecting the ball flat from a Richard Wigglesworth pass to wriggle over to score. On 70 minutes Goode added a penalty kick to make the scores 18-13 setting up a grandstand finish.
Yet it was Man of the Match Burns who would slot over the final points of the game, sending over a well-hit drop goal to make the score 21-13. Sarries wing Mike Ellery was yellow carded for a shoulder charge in the closing stages as the Tigers saw out the contest to win.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall: “Full marks to our effort today, as we scrapped for everything and we dug in from 18-3 down to give ourselves a chance of getting some points. We are lacking a bit of firepower at the moment and when we had our chances we didn’t take them today. I thought Leicester took advantage of the extra man better than we did earlier on in the game, but there were some positives that we can take out of today.”
Final Score: Leicester Tigers 21 Saracens 13
15 Tommy Bell; 14 Adam Thompstone; 13 Peter Betham; 12 Owen Williams; 11 Vereniki Goneva; 10 Freddie Burns; 9 Jono Kitto; 1 Marcos Ayerza; 2 Harry Thacker; 3 Logovi'i Mulipola; 4 Dom Barrow; 5 Graham Kitchener; 6 Mike Fitzgerald; 7 Lachlan McCaffrey; 8 Jordan Crane (c)
Replacements 16 Greg Bateman; 17 Ellis Genge; 18 Fraser Balmain; 19 Tom Croft; 20 Opeti Fonua; 21 Sam Harrison; 22 Matt Smith; 23 Telusa Veainu.
Replacements used: Bateman for Thacker (64); Balmain for Goneva (11-20); Croft for Fitzgerald (27-30 & 47); Fonua for Crane (71); Harrison for Kitto (49); Veainu for Thompstone (53).
Tries Burns; Goneva.
Penalties: Burns x 2
Drop goal: Burns
Yellow card Munipola (10).
15 Alex Goode; 14 Mike Ellery; 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Brad Barritt (c); 11 Chris Wyles; 10 Nils Mordt; 9 Neil de Kock; 1 Richard Barrington; 2 Schalk Brits; 3 Juan Figallo; 4 Jim Hamilton; 5 Alistair Hargreaves; 6 Michael Rhodes; 7 Kelly Brown; 8 Jackson Wray:
Replacements 16 Dave Porecki; 17 Titi Lamositele; 18 Petrus Du Plessis; 19 Hayden Smith; 20 Will Fraser; 21 Richard Wigglesworth; 22 Nick Tompkins; 23 Ben Ransom:
Replacements used: Lamositele for Barrington ((50); Du Plessis (41); Smith for Hargreaves (59); Fraser for Rhodes (53); Wigglesworth for De Kock (50); Tomkins for Barritt (49); Ransom for Mordt (62).
Penalties Goode x 2
Yellow card Mordt (43); Ellery (77).