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“Great effort from the boys today at a tough Welford Road”

Mark McCall

Saracens got their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign off to a winning start with a hard fought win over Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park.

Two first half tries gave the Men in Black a first half lead before man of the match Joel Kpoku extended the lead after the break. Leicester mounted a strong second half fight-back, but Adam Powell’s young side closed out a 29-21 victory.

It may have been Leicester who opened the scoring through a penalty from Joe Ford but it was Saracens who had the first meaningful impact on the game. A huge physical effort from the forward saw Leicester driven back within their own half before Schalk Burger broke off the maul to dot down. Malins’ conversion flew just wide but the Men in Black had engineered a narrow 5-3 lead within the opening ten minutes.

There was little to separate the sides as the half wore on, a kick a piece from Joe Ford and Max Malins the only points as both sides struggled to find their rhythm in the opening half an hour. Sarries for their part showed flashes of attacking intent, an excellent driving maul nearly resulted in a second try but for a knock on, while Ali Crossdale’s searing run down the wing was a clear demonstration of the potential in Saracens young side.

Saracens may have enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but it was Leicester who looked set to take in a narrow lead at the break; a third successful kick from the boot of Joe Ford having given the visitors an 8-9 lead late in the half. The pressure from Saracens eventually told though as the men in black claimed a deserved second try with seconds left to play in the half. This time the points came from another of Saracens’ back rowers, Sione Vailanu who dummied his defenders to create the perfect space before making a beeline for the whitewash.

Saracens came back out for the second half with a bang, maintaining the pressure they had built so tirelessly in the first half with an early score when Joel Kpoku forced his way over for a score on his senior debut. This time Malins’ conversion found the mark, stretching the Sarries lead to 20-9.

Saracens extended their lead further through two Max Malins penalties, but it was their defensive efforts rather than those in attack which dominated the final twenty minutes. A fine try saving effort from Henry Taylor to hold up the ball prevented Leicester from crossing on the hour mark, but the visitors would eventually find a way through the Men in Black when prop forward David Feao powered over from close range a few minutes later.

Leicester closed the gap further with another effort from close range, electing to kick for the corner when Saracens were penalised in front of the post before setting up Harry Wells who snuck through in the corner. Joe Ford’s conversion was off the mark, but the Tigers had sliced the Sarries lead to just 8 points with ten minutes to play.

Roared on by the Allianz Park crowd Saracens held firm though, seeing out the game to secure a 29-21 win.


15 Matt Gallagher; 14 Ali Crossdale; 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Dom Morris; 11 Elliott Obatoyinbo(Taylor 53′); 10 Max Malins; 9 Tom Whiteley (c) 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer(Adams-Hale 53′); 2 Tom Woolstencroft(Gray 53′-55′);3 Titi Lamositele(Judge 53′); 4 Dom Day; 5 Joel Kpoku(Nay 64′); 6 Calum Clark; 7 Schalk Burger; 8 Sione Vailanu(Reffell64′)

Replacements; 16 Joe Gray; 17 Ralph Adams-Hale;18 Christian Judge; 19 Jack Nay; 20 Sean Reffell; 21 Andy Christie; 22 Henry Taylor;23 Reuben Bird-Tulloch

Tries: Burger, Vailanu, Kpoku.

Con Malin

Pens: Malin x 4

Leicester; 15 George Worth; 14 Telusa Veainu(Holmes 15′); 13 Matt Smith(Owen 71′)’); 12 Tom Hardwick; 11 Jordan Olowofela;10 Joe Ford; 9 Ben White (c); 1 David Feao(Ma’afu 41′-46′);2 Jake Kerr (Polota-Nau 71′);3 Joe Heyes(Gigena 64′);4 Cameron Jordan; 5 Harry Wells; 6 Sam Lewis( Tuilagi 64′); 7 Tommy Reffell; 8 Thom Smith (Mapapalangi 60′)

Replacements 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau ; 17 Campese Ma’afu; 18 Facundo Gigena; 19 Valentino Mapapalangi; 20 Fred Tuilagi; 21 Felipe Ezcurra; 22 Gareth Owen;23 Jonah Holmes.

Tries: Feao. Wells.

Con: Ford

Pens: Ford x 3

Match highlights

Highlights | Saracens Men 29-21 Leicester Tigers (Premiership Rugby Cup)

Highlights | Saracens Men 29-21 Leicester Tigers (Premiership Rugby Cup)

Duration 1m

Highlights from Saracens' Premiership Rugby Cup win over Leicester Tigers.