Saracens continued their relentless winning-form at the Allianz Park as England No.8 Billy Vunipola inspired Mark McCall’s table-toppers to a six-try mauling of perennial title-challengers Leicester Tigers.
Ahead of kick-off Leicester boss Richard Cockerill confirmed the midweek news Tigers’ skipper Toby Flood would be leaving Welford Road at the end of the season.
And it seemed a combination of the transfer speculation and Leicester having never previously played on the Allianz Park artificial surface saw Leicester very much second-best in the opening quarter.
Leicester had the first opportunity to go for goal after just two minutes but with conditions very poor, fly-half Ryan Lamb turned down a shot at the posts and kicked for touch instead after Sarries fly-half Owen Farrell had been pinged for obstruction.
Sarries have lost just once in 14 games since moving to North London and the reasons why become evident after just six minutes as wing Jack Wilson touched down in the corner.
A great off-load by veteran lock Steve Borthwick saw Alex Goode brought into the line and he picked out Wilson on the flank for his fourth try in as many games, with England No.10 Farrell adding the extras.
Farrell, who had kicked 48 points in his previous four games for Saracens at the Allianz Park, stretched his side’s lead to ten points on nine points with a straightforward penalty in front of the posts.
Leicester, who prior to kick-off had won six straight games in all competitions, struggled for territory and possession in the opening quarter.
Slowly but surely, Leicester got a foothold in the game and Lamb, deputising for Flood – landed a difficult penalty into a howling wing to make the score 10-3.
After a period of sustained Saracens’ pressure, Leicester were penalised for going offside at the breakdown and Farrell had the easy opportunity of extending his side’s lead with a penalty bang in front of the posts.
Lamb missed an opportunity to bring Leicester back into the after 36 minutes, fluffing a penalty attempt after British Lion Matt Stevens had been penalised at the breakdown.
Graham Kitchener was handed an early Christmas present by Farrell on the stroke of half-time, the England No.10 seeing his clearance charged down and the second-row gathered the loose ball and dived in under the posts – Lamb also adding the extras.
Kitchener went from hero to zero seconds later though as he was sin-binned for a late tackle on England fly-half Farrell.
Saracens took full advantage of the numerical advantage, England wing Chris Ashton scoring his fifth try in six games for his club – this time Farrell missed his kick at goal to leave the score 18-10 at the break.
And just five minutes into the second-half it got worse for Leicester as Billy Vunipola crashed over after a series of offloads – Farrell kicking the conversion.
Terrence Hepetema was penalised after 48 minutes for tackling without using his arms and Farrell extended Saracens’ lead to 28-10 with a penalty.
There was concern in the 67th minute as England flay-half Farrell was carried off in a neck brace after a bone-crunching collision.
The injury did little to halt the Saracens’ charge as following a blistering break from replacement Neil De Kock, Jackson Wray dived over for the bonus-point on 68 minutes – Hodgson adding the extras.
The wheels came off the Leicester challenge in the final ten minutes, Leicester replacement Thomas Waldrom was sin-binned at the breakdown and from the resulting scrum – Saracens were awarded a penalty try – Hodgson again converted.
Ashton rounded off a near-perfect afternoon for Saracens as he went over for his second score of the game in the final minutes – Hodgson brilliantly converted the score.