Leicester fly-half Freddie Burns was the star of the show at Welford Road as the Tigers kept up their Aviva Premiership Rugby top-four assault with a workmanlike win over high-flying Saracens.
Burns scored a try, conversion, two penalties and a drop goal for a full house to move his side back into the top four on an emotional afternoon at Welford Road.
The match kicked off after the home crowd had risen to pay tribute to former Tiger Seru Rabeni, who passed away this week at the age of 37.
The Tigers showed attacking intent from the very start of the match, running back a kick in the second minute. Second row Graham Kitchener looked to have put prop Logovi’i Mulipola into space but Leicester were harshly called back for a forward pass that looked marginal.
From the resulting scrum, the home side were able to lay down an immediate marker as they pressured the Saracens eight into conceding a penalty.
The visitors were able to clear their lines at the next scrum and earned the first scoring opportunity with Leicester penalised at the ruck, but Marcelo Bosch’s long-range attempt drifted wide.
However, the Tigers were reduced to 14 men for ten minutes after Mulipola was shown the yellow card for a swinging arm on Bosch.
Saracens capitalised at the very next scrum forcing a penalty that Alex Goode kicked with ease. The lead lasted less than two minutes though as Saracens conceded a kickable penalty that Burns converted.
Following this exchange of penalties the game sparked into life racing from end to end as both sides saw promising attacks snuffed out by errors and turnovers.
Leicester right wing Adam Thompstone was guilty of squandering the best chance dropping the final pass with a clear run to the line after some excellent phase play.
Saracens were unable to clear their lines and the home side continued to mount attacks close to the tryline. Tigers scrum-half Jono Kitto was inches short when hauled down by Kelly Brown and the home side were forced to settle for another Burns penalty.
The second half started as the first had with an early yellow card. This time it was Saracens who were reduced to 14 men as fly-half Nils Mordt was punished for pulling back Peter Betham.
The home side made their numerical superiority count as Burns danced his way over for the opening try of the match in the 46th minute. He touched down under the posts before adding the conversion.
A second try soon followed as Owen Williams made the most of a loose ball by breaking down the left flank and finding Sam Harrison in support. He in turn found Vereniki Goneva who raced over for the score.
Saracens responded with their best spell of pressure and camped on the Leicester line and forced a succession of penalty before Goode barreled his way over from close range and added the extras.
Two minutes later Goode closed the gap further with a penalty after the Tigers infringed at a lineout. But hopes of a comeback were snuffed out as Burns added a drop goal to his personal haul for the afternoon as Sarries were knocked off top spot by the Exeter Chiefs.