Apr 11, 2015
Miserly Saracens see off Tigers
Saracens moved into second spot of the Aviva Premiership table after beating Leicester Tigers 22-6 at a sold-out Allianz Park.
In a defensive masterclass from the north Londoner's, Sarries scored 22 unanswered points to defeat the resurgent Tiger's outfit and in the process, extend their unbeaten run to seven games.
Leicester lead an attritional first half for the majority of the opening forty minutes, with Freddie Burns sending over two well hit penalties. Despite playing into the infamous 'Barnet Breeze', Saracens went into the half one point to the good, with Man of the Match Billy Vunipola blasting his way over from close range on the back of a strong Saracens scrum.
In the second half, Sarries exploded into life, with Marcelo Bosch and Chirs Wyles scoring two well-worked tries in a devastating opening period to the second half.
Charlie Hodgson added another three points from the kicking tee as Saracens then absorbed a Tigers onslaught in their own 22.
Time after time, the Tigers tide was stemmed and nullified with some committed Sarries defence. Notable efforts from Kelly Brown, George Kruis and David Strettle kept the top four chasing East-Midlanders scoreless in an entertaining second half.
Saracens could be forgiven for starting rather slowly after the heroics in Paris six days earlier. With Richard Cockerill's side enjoying a week off, it was no surprise that Welford Road side looked the better of two teams in the opening exchanges.
With the wind behind their backs and half-backs Ben Youngs and Freddie Burns looking to influence proceedings the Tigers ran into a 6-0 lead after ten minutes.
Saracens were struggling to establish any field position playing into the howling gale, yet when they did foray into the Tigers half poor handling was a constant frustration.
Undeterred, Saracens continued to plug away. The forward trio of Kelly Brown, Alistair Hargreaves and George Kruis carried superbly, with Brown and Kruis both making lung bursting break.
Saracens could have reduced Leicester's slender lead to just three points, yet Alex Goode hit the red uprights at Allianz Park, as the howling wind played havoc with any Saracens goal kicking efforts.
The home side would go into the break with the lead. After England hooker Tom Youngs was yellow carded for a cynical block on the onrushing Saracens defence, Sarries asked referee Matthew Carley to set a scrum. The Tigers repeatedly infringed at scrum-time and were extremely fortunate not to have conceded a penalty try as a consequence. This mattered not, as Billy Vunipola barged his way over with seconds left on the clock to cross for the all important score. Hodgson converted as Sarries went into the changing room with a 7-6 lead.
The second half would always be a different affair, and so it proved. Energised from a fine first half defensive display Saracens cut loose in a devastating eight minute spell after the break. First, last weekend's hero Marcelo Bosch continued to endear himself to the Sarries faithful when he waltzed in to score Saracens second of the afternoon after 41st minute - Hodgson converted expertly from the East touchline.
Up next was Chris Wyles. The versatile USA centre burrowed over to score, after a beautifully delayed Charlie Hodgson pass released him down the left hand wing. The decision was referred to the Match TMO, but there was no doubting that Wyles' try was A-OK.
Saracens flirted with crossing for their fourth of the afternoon. Both Chris Ashton and Alex Goode looked lively in attack, but the Tigers responded well and enjoyed the lion's share of territory and possession in the closing stages.
The Saracens defence was superb, and very much up to the task in repelling any Leicester attacks. Some eye watering hits from Alistair Hargreaves and George Kruis caught the eye, with substitute hooker Scott Spurling also underlining his burgeoning reputation as one of the clubs most exciting prospects.
Despite phase after phase, and wave after wave of Leicester attacks the energised Saracens rearguard continued to frustrate the Tigers attack.
With Leicester's back-line cutting a collective frustrated unit, wing Verenki Goneva was yellow carded in the closing stages as Sarries saw out the game to win, 22-6.