Jan 01, 2017
Saracens kick-off New Year with gritty win
Owen Farrell was the match winner for Saracens as they defeated a resilient Leicester Tigers team 16-12 at Welford Road to kick off the New Year with a hard-fought win.
Fly-Half Farrell scored all of side’s 16 points with his 55th minute try decisive in a game that was low on try scoring chances but high on tension and endeavour.
After Ben Youngs’ horror pass to his outside half Owen Williams gifted Saracens possession deep in the Tigers half, the hosts recycled the ball and Farrell sold a beautiful dummy to race 20 metres to score the match winning try.
Farrell and his opposite number Owen Williams exchanged penalties throughout the contest that was dominated by either side’s miserly defences.
Leicester edged in front with an Owen Williams penalty after cagey opening ten minutes. Leicester held the lead until the 24th minute when Farrell levelled the game after the Tigers were penalised at the breakdown, before Williams and Farrell swapped penalties before the break as the teams went into the half-time with the scores at 6-6.
The first half contest was attritional affair, with Tigers star centre Manu Tuilagi having to leave the contest after picking up a leg injury early into the game. In the second half Sarries lost wing Chris Ashton to a head-knock as the ferocity of both defences ultimately took its toll on either side.
One man though who was ice-cool amongst fiery chaos was Saracens No10 Owen Farrell.
After Williams added another three points from a scrum penalty, Farrell dusted himself down after an uncharacteristic penalty miss to score the game breaking try.
With the Saracens defence suffocating Leicester in tehir own half, Tigers halfback Ben Youngs received scrappy ball at the base of the ruck and launched a panicked pass to his half-back partner Owen Williams. Williams couldn’t handle the ball, and after Sarries hoovered up the scraps Farrell was on hand to spot the gap and finish Saracens only chance of the game. It was clinical from Mark McCall’s side.
Farrell and Williams once again traded penalties as the game entered its final stages. The Tigers rallied but Saracens showed their steel to see out a tense contest to win 16-12.
15 Alex Goode; 14. Chris Ashton (Earle 49); 13. Marcelo Bosch; 12. Brad Barritt © 11. Sean Maitland; 10. Owen Farrell; 9. Ben Spencer (De Kock 49);1. Richard Barrington (Lamositele 51); 2. Jamie George;( Brits 51); 3. Juan Figallo; 4. Will Skelton (Hamilton 62); 5. Maro Itoje; 6. Michael Rhodes; 7. Schalk Burger (Brown 70); 8. Jackson Wray.
Replacements 16. Schalk Brits; 17. Titi Lamositele; 18. Petrus Du Plessis; 19. Jim Hamilton; 20. Kelly Brown; 21. Neil De Kock; 22. Alex Lozowski;23. Nathan Earle:
Scores Try Farrell (72):
Penalties Farrell x 3/5
15 Freddie Burns; 14 Peter Betham;13 Jack Roberts; 12 Manu Tuilagi(Brady 8); 11 Adam Thompstone; 10 Owen Williams; 9 Ben Youngs( Harrison 75); 1 Ellis Genge ; 2 Tom Youngs (c)( McGuigan 75); 3 Dan Cole;4 Ed Slater; 5 Mike Fitzgerald; 6 Mike Williams( Kitchener 76); 7 Brendon O'Connor; 8 Lachlan McCaffrey( Evans 57).
Replacements; 16 George McGuigan; 17 Pat Cilliers; 18 Greg Bateman; 19 Graham Kitchener; 20 Will Evans; 21 Sam Harrison; 22 George Worth; 23 Tom Brady:
Scores Penalties O.Williams x 4/6:
Scoring Sequence 3-0 Williams pen; 3-3 Farrell pen; 3-6 Farrell pen; 6-6 Williams pen; 9-6 Williams pen; 9-11 Farrell try; 9-13 Farrell con; 9-16 Farrell pen; 12-16 Williams pen:
Man of the match: Owen Farrell