In front of a crowd of 10,351, and in tricky conditions, the Tigers were made to work hard by Buck Shelford’s side who were unlucky not to come away with a losing point from the game following Geordan Murphy’s audcious drop-goal on the stroke of full-time.
A penalty from Leicester fullback Tim Stimpson early doors saw the Tigers move into a 3-0 lead and with the wind swirling around Vicarage Road, both sides struggled to get things moving forward, Saracens’ stand-off Andy Goode missing his first opportunity to post points against his former club as he sent a penalty effort wide.
Goode finally found his range just before the half-hour mark to tie the scores at 3-3 but the parity did not last long as Stimpson restored Leicester’s narrow advantage the following minute.
The game seemed to swing away from Saracens soon after co-captain Kevin Sorrell was sin-binned on 32 minutes for killing the ball but just as home fans’ thoughts were turning to merely holding on until half-time, they got an unexpected fillup.
Saracens’ Welsh centre Tom Shanklin sprang in to steal an intercept as Leicester tried to work ball on the blindside, Shanklins racing away for over half the field for the games’ first try, Goode missing the conversion.
However, despite this strike somewhat aganst the run of play, Stimpson slotted his third penalty of the day to give Leicester the slenderest of half-time leads at 9-8.
The vistors were first off the blocks in the second period, the Tigers making most of their man advantage as electric winger Steve Booth touched down within 60 seconds of the re-start, Stimpson adding the extras for a 16-8 lead.
To their credit, Saracens refused to lie down and they got their reward as French international Thomas Castaignede cut through near the posts for their second five pointer, Goode having few problems with the conversion as they moved once again to within one point of the visitors.
Leicester tried hard to stretch their lead and Steve Booth raced over for an apparent second try after 67 minutes but it was disallowed after the touch-judge spotted an infraction off the ball, much to the dismay of the Tigers’ camp.
Continued possession followed for Tigers and they got their just reward under five minutes later as Irish international Geordan Murphy sliced open a stretched Saracens’ defence to score their second try, Stimpson managing a tricky conversion to leave Saracens needing to score twice to win.
Goode got one of those scores close to the end, finding his kicking boots when they were needed with his second penalty, but a monster drop-kick from Geordan Murphy in virtually the last act of the game sealed the win and denied Saracens a potentially crucial losing bonus point.
SaracensTries: Shanklin, Castaignede Cons: GoodePens: Goode 2
Leicester TigersTries: Booth, Murphy Cons: Stimpson 2Pens: Stimpson 3DGs: Murphy