Leicester Tigers guaranteed their place in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP championship play-offs with a one-point away victory over Saracens.
Fly-half Andy Goode’s 55th-minute penalty secured the win and denied former England scrum-half Kyran Bracken a winning farewell in front of the Saracens fans.
The 34–year old Bracken led Saracens out in his final home match before retiring at the end of the season.
Saracens, who have shown a huge improvement in recent weeks to pull themselves clear of the relegation trouble which has haunted them for most of the campaign, led until Goode’s decisive kick.
They had one more chance to snatch victory but fly-half Glenn Jackson, who had landed his first four penalties, was off target with his fifth attempt in the 58th minute.
Goode, who had uncharacteristically missed four out of six kicks against Wasps last weekend, passed up the opportunity to give Tigers a second minute lead when he failed with a penalty.
Saracens built up a 9-0 lead with three penalties from Jackson as their lively pack applied the pressure which forced Leicester into infringements.
But it was Tigers who came closest to the opening try when winger Alesana Tuilagi saw the ball slip from his grasp as he reached for the line after beinghauled down just short.
Then England flanker Lewis Moody was denied a try by the fourth official who ruled out his 29th minute touchdown for a double movement after studying the video evidence after Moody was dragged down close to the line following a 60-metre move by Tom Varndell and Geordan Murphy.
But it was third time lucky for Leicester when Saracens winger Dan Scarbrough misjudged a high crossfield kick from Goode, leaving Varndell to collect for a gift 32nd minute try in the right hand corner, which Goode converted.
Jackson extended the 9-7 half-time lead to 12-7 with his fourth penalty when Austin Healey, on as a blood replacement for England scrum-half Harry Ellis, waspenalised after becoming involved in an off-the-ball exchange with Bracken.
Ellis, who had suffered a gashed head in a collision with Jackson’s boot as he tried to charge down a kick just before half-time, returned shortly after Goode reduced the margin to two points with his second penalty.
Three minutes later Goode struck the decisive blow and Tuilagi squandered a golden opportunity to put the issue beyond doubt six minutes from time when he dropped a pass from Varndell with the line at his mercy.