Feb 25, 2018
Saracens undone by Leicester at Allianz Park
Despite an energised second half performance and two Max Malins tries Saracens fell to a 20-28 defeat under freezing blue skies at Allianz Park this afternoon.
Leicester showed their quality to produce some of their finest rugby of the season and take away a bonus point from north London as they ran in four tries to overcome the men in black.
The Tigers, who came in to the game off the back of an important win over Harlequins last weekend, started the game strongly and it was the visitors who were able to orchestrate the first serious attack of the afternoon moving through the phases as they patiently worked their way forward in to the Saracens 22. A knock on just inside the home sides 22 disrupted their rhythm however and Saracens were awarded the scrum. A knock on, this time from Saracens sent possession back to the visitors and the Tigers set themselves up from the scrum to attack again. Much as in the previous passage of play Leicester remained patient as they went through the phases until Manu Tuilagi edged his way through the Saracens line and powered his way under the posts. Tigers converted to claim an early 0-7 lead.
The lead gave Leicester momentum and the visitors looked comfortable as the half progressed. Saracens were given slender opportunities in the visitor’s half thanks to solid defence from the Tigers but the men in black continued to look to put pressure on Leicester as they looked to get off the mark in the game. Eventually the pressure told and when Leicester were penalised for taking out Nick Isiekwe at the line out Ben Spencer opted to go for the sticks, slotting Saracens’ first points of the afternoon to make the score 3-7 with just over ten minutes left to play in the half.
Saracens had cut the deficit, but it was still Leicester who were enjoying the lions share of possession in the half and just after the half hour mark the Tigers added a second score when prop Greg Bateman showed an impressive turn of pace to break through the Saracens line and score. Toomua added the extras to extend Leicester’s lead to 3-14.
Spencer’s boot cut the Tigers’ lead once again just before the break as Saracens looked for a way to fight their way back in to the game but the final word in the half went to Leicester who scored their third moments later. This time it was Telusa Veainu who added his name to the scoresheet, combining with Matt Toomua before breaking away to score and take Leicester in to the break with a 6-21 lead.
Both teams came out after the break high on energy and intensity, desperate to secure the first points of the second forty. It was a breathless start to the half and ten minutes in Saracens burst in to the Leicester 22 with a real sense of intent, Marcelo Bosch making a purposeful sprint before he was halted by the Tigers defence. Saracens regrouped and continued to attack however and the men in black soon found themselves metres from the Tigers line before the ball made its way out to Nathan Earle on the wing who looked to be over in the corner only for the TMO to chalk off the score after a long review. From the scrum Sarries repeated the move pulling the ball out wide to Earle who went agonisingly close to scoring, losing control of the ball as he attempted to dot down.
Despite Saracens best efforts Leicester continued to make life difficult for their hosts, shutting down any Saracens attempts to attack with seemingly impenetrable defence. The Tigers notched up the try bonus point just past the hour mark when Manu Tuilagi showcased his immense power to bulldoze down the line before offloading to winger Jonah Holmes who crossed over for the score.
The final ten minutes of the half saw Saracens play some of their best rugby of the game and through Max Malins the men in black were finally able to break through the Leicester line for their first try and bring the score to 13-28. Seconds before the final whistle Malins was in again showing great foot work to exploit the space around him. From the restart Saracens looked for one final attack and to come away with a losing bonus point but it wasn’t to be as the ball slipped away from the grasp of Rotimi Segun and Leicester closed out a 20-28 victory.
15 Alex Goode,14 Nathan Earle( Segun 68'), 13 Marcelo Bosch( Malins 67'), 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles,10 Alex Lozowski,9 Ben Spencer( Whiteley 65'), 1 Richard Barrington( Thompson-Stringer 58'), 2 Schalk Brits( Flanagan 67'), 3 Juan Figallo( Lamositele 58'), 4 Dominic Day,5 Nick Isiekwe,6 Calum Clark(Vailanu (17'rep Spurling 28')7 Schalk Burger,8 Jackson Wray,
Replacements. 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Max Malins, 23 Rotimi Segun.
Scores Tries Malin (69'& 80')
Conversations Lozowski 2/2
Penalties Spencer 2/2
15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Gareth Owen( Tait 2'), Jonah Holmes, 10 Matt Toomua (c), 9 Sam Harrison( Simmons 65'), 1 Greg Bateman( Rizzo 70'), 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau(Youngs 54'), 3 Logovi’i Mulipola( Cilliers (65'),4 Mike Fitzgerald( Wells 65'), 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams( Hamilton 34'), 7 Brendon O’Connor,8 Sione Kalamafoni.
Replacements. 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Luke Hamilton,
21 Harry Simmons, 22 Joe Ford,23 Mathew Tait.
Scores Tries Toomua (10'), Bateman(33'),Veainu(38'),Holmes (65').
Conversations Toomalua 4/4
Yellow card Rizzo (79')