Leeds remain rock bottom of the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP after slipping to their third straight defeat as Saracens claimed two tries in each half at Headingley Carnegie.
First-half touchdowns from Rodd Penney and Richard Haughton helped the visitors to establish a 17-0 interval advantage which they never looked likely to relinquish.
So it proved as Noah Cato grabbed a third Saracens try on the hour mark before Hugh Vyvyan raced clear for a late fourth while former Leeds fly-half Gordon Ross claimed a penalty and three conversions on his Headingley return.
Leeds, for whom debutant Calum Clark became the youngest forward to start a Premiership match, failed to penetrate a resolute Saracens outfit and this latest reverse enhanced their status as relegation favourites.
Skipper Stuart Hooper crossed the line for Leeds in the last minute, a try converted by Leigh Hinton, but the Yorkshiremen had long since surrendered the points.
Leeds knew life would be tough back in the Premiership but they again showed little to suggest they are capable of climbing out of trouble.
Ross, who was surprisingly omitted from Scotland’s World Cup squad, failed miserably with a fourth-minute penalty but thereafter he emerged as the key figure.
Ross spent four years at Leeds and remains their record Premiership points scorer, so the Headingley faithful hardly needed reminding about his qualities.
Ross’ neat short offload sent Penney scampering clear to cross the line just wide of the posts for Saracens’ first try in the ninth minute, and he added the extras to give Saracens a 7-0 advantage.
Leeds full-back Richard Welding then sent a penalty wide of the posts in the 11th minute and moments later Ross showed him how to do it with a brilliant penalty goal from over 45 metres close to the left-hand touchline.
Ross, who dovetailed superbly with skipper Neil De Kock, tested Leeds with a series of probing kicks which kept Saracens on the front foot.
Leeds, for their part, barely managed to escape their own half in the opening 40 minutes and Tom Rock’s jinking run was their only noteworthy threat.
Even then they managed to surrender possession and, after Welding missed another penalty, Saracens claimed their second try two minutes before the break.
A fine move saw the ball worked out to Haughton on the right flank and he raced over in the right corner.
Ross converted to give his side a 17-0 interval lead which they took 22 second-half minutes to add to as centre Adam Powell sent Cato over in the left-hand corner.
That came after Richard Vasey and Ross had both missed 42nd and 60th-minute penalties respectively, and with Ross converting Cato’s try, Saracens were 24-0 ahead.
Leeds, to their credit, refused to give up but, while there was plenty of endeavour and determination, there was precious little quality.
That was provided exclusively by Saracens, who claimed their fourth try when Vyvyan collected Iain Fullarton’s pass to race under the posts.
With Ross having departed on the hour mark, Glen Jackson added the extras before Leeds crossed in the closing stages when Hooper barged over under the posts and Hinton converted.