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Match Report: Saracens 26 Leicester Tigers 6

02 Jan 2016
Match Report: Saracens 26 Leicester Tigers 6

Leicester Tigers entered this game hopeful of a first win at Allianz Park only for the Saracens forwards to blow them away, earning a hat-trick of penalty tries as the visitors ended the day on the wrong end of a 26-6 defeat.

It was the first time in Aviva Premiership history a side had notched a penalty try treble, with Jamie George grabbing the other score from close range as Saracens secured the bonus point and extended their unbeaten run this season.

Leicester, who started the game third in the table and on a three-game winning streak, were seriously undermined by injuries to England stars Tom Croft and skipper Ed Slater in the first half and had no answer to Saracens’ power after the break.

Leicester started brightly with the benefit of the wind, getting behind Saracens with a series of grubber kicks, with both teams battling ferociously at the breakdown with the ball going to ground repeatedly as the sides found their feet.

The away side won a penalty in front of the posts giving Freddie Burns the chance to settle any early nerves, which he took with aplomb to make it 3-0 from 30 metres out.

However if Saracens were rattled they didn’t show it, and from the restart they got the driving maul working and began to push Leicester back.

The visitors were pinged for infringing at scrum-time as Saracens ground out the hard yards, pushing the Leicester pack back 25 metres until they had no option but to collapse the maul.

Referee Greg Garner ran under the posts to award the penalty try, Charlie Hodgson adding the extras, as Saracens opened up a 7-3 lead after 11 minutes.

To make matters worse for Leicester Croft was forced from the field after appearing to receive a blow to the head, to be replaced by Lachlan McCaffrey.

Leicester were initially unfazed and gradually worked their way upfield, with Burns at the heart of most attacks. And it was the fly-half who made a half-break, supported by Harry Thacker, which earned another Tigers penalty that Burns made short work of to reduce the deficit to a single point on 23 minutes.

The visitors then saw Slater limp off the field with an injury to join Croft on the bench, with Mike Fitzgerald coming on to replace him as the Tigers were forced to make another early use of their replacements.

As the first half drew to a close, Charlie Hodgson was given an opportunity to extend Saracens’ lead from the tee after Leicester were penalised at the breakdown for going offside only for the experienced fly-half to send the ball wide of the posts.

Then Telusa Veainu thought he won the ball at the ruck only to be whistled by referee Garner with this time Alex Goode stepping up for penalty duties, but like Hodgson he failed to punish Leicester from the edge of the 22 with the teams trooping off with only one point separating them.

Saracens were immediately on the attack at the start of the second period, moving the ball through the hands before Hodgson sent through a dangerous grubber kick that forced Veainu to take the ball into touch.

The home side won the lineout and threw men into the catch-and-drive, forcing their way over the line for replacement Jamie George to touch down, but Hodgson couldn’t replicate his accuracy with the ball in hand and missed the posts with the conversion with the score saying 12-6.

Despite ringing the changes in the front row, with Dan Cole coming on to make his 100th Aviva Premiership appearance for Leicester, the visitors seemingly had no answer to Saracens’ power up front.

And with 13 minutes of the second half gone Saracens turned down another kick at the posts to line up for the scrum, forcing a desperate Tigers pack to pull down the maul with the referee pointing for the second penalty try of the afternoon.

Hodgson made short work of the conversion and Saracens led 19-6 with Leicester appearing to have run out of ideas of how to counteract the home side’s main attacking platform.

With Owen Farrell on at fly-half in place of the departed Hodgson, Saracens pushed for the bonus point try, botching one attacking lineout before Maro Itoje was held up short of the line.

With the pressure at boiling point Leicester, who rarely threatened the Saracens try line all afternoon, began to falter even further with Dan Cole sent to the sin bin as the visitors failed to cope with a Saracens side in full flow.

And a third penalty try completed an unwanted hat-trick for Leicester as the defence melted away once more, the referee going under the posts with Farrell converting to extend the lead to 26-6 with what proved to be the final score of the game.

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