Saracens kept up the chase at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table after a superb second-half performance handed them a 22-6 victory, and ended Leicester Tigers’ five-game winning run.
Billy Vunipola’s try at the end of the first period gave the hosts a slim 7-6 half-time lead, after Freddie Burns had hit two penalties for Leicester.
But with the Tigers a man down when Tom Youngs was sin-binned, the wolfpack took full advantage – Marcelo Bosch and Chris Wyles both crashing over in the space of eight minutes at the start of the second half.
Leicester made the perfect start to the game, frustrating the home side and earning themselves a 6-0 lead inside ten minutes when Sarries twice strayed offside.
Burns curled his straightforward kicks through the posts, the Tigers rewarded for patient play in the opening stages.
The fly-half was influential, making a couple of key breaks and pulling the strings in midfield, while errors up the field cost the hosts dear, as they knocked-on or were outworked at the breakdown every time they entered the 22.
Saracens were given a chance to respond on 20 minutes, when referee Matt Carley awarded a penalty for a high tackle. Bosch stepped up but the Argentine’s mis-hit kick into a stiff breeze came up short.
However the game turned in the 35th minute, a high tackle from Seremaia Bai giving the wolfpack a penalty right in front of the posts.
Alex Goode somehow hit the woodwork from point-blank range, but from the restart Chris Ashton’s turn of pace saw him go around the outside and offload.
And while Saracens were turned over, Tom Youngs saw yellow for a cynical block on Ashton with Leicester struggling to clear their lines.
Hunting the score, Saracens opted for the five-metre and after three scrums and three penalties, Billy Vunipola finally scrambled over for the try next to the posts which was awarded via TMO.
The scoreline was 21-21 at Welford Road back in November, and with Charlie Hodgson’s simple conversion sailing through a draw looked possible again – the score 7-6 at the interval.
But Saracens came out firing at the start of the second-half, and with the momentum and the extra man put the Tigers to the sword.
Bosch crashed over in the corner a minute into the half, after Sarries moved the ball from one side of the field to the other with Leicester stretched. Hodgson added the extras with a perfectly struck kick from the sideline.
Bai was then penalised for hands in the ruck as Saracens immediately found themselves deep in Leicester territory again, in a period of relentless pressure from Mark McCall’s men.
And it paid off as Leicester were breached once more, Wyles burrowing his way over after 48 minutes with a great finish after some smart hands from Hodgson.
Leicester immediately responded and after some neat work in attack Burns was almost over in the corner from Vereniki Goneva’s pass, but Sarries got back to cover with some breathtaking last-ditch tackling.
The Tigers have struggled for tries this season – their total of 26 the second-lowest in the league – and toughed it out again as Mark McCall’s side were resolute in defence.
Hodgson added another penalty on 62 minutes, and things got even worse for the visitors eight minutes later when replacement Strettle made a superb try-saving tackle on Goneva – who was sin-binned late on.
And Sarries kept the door firmly shut in the closing stages to secure their seventh win on the bounce in all competitions, and leapfrog Bath Rugby into second-place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
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