But the home side left it late to secure the victory, Ollie Smith and Leon Lloyd running in second half tries to ensure the win.
Indeed, they had found themselves out-gunned for most of the first half, a well-organised Saracens outfit putting in a strong first 40 minutes to end up 11-8 ahead at the break.
All of Saracens’ first half points came from Adryan Winnan, the shaven-headed fullback scoring a well-taken try and kicking two penalties.
Winnan’s try came in the 10th minute after an opening period which saw little in the way of cohesive team play from either side.
The fullback came racing into the line after team-mate Brett Sparg had chipped into the right-hand corner. With the ball bouncing out of the reach of chasing defender Jamie Hamilton, Winnan showed tremendous presence of mind to grab the ball and touch down for the try.
He failed to convert his own try however, and Leicester were soon able to draw level after a concerted period of attack.
The famous Tigers’ ‘catch-and-drive’ tactic from a lineout saw former New Zealand openside Josh Kronfeld driving over the line for his side’s first score to make it 5-all.
But despite conceding this score, Saracens stuck to their task and began to make in-roads into Leicester territory, racking up two penalties through the boot of Winnan.
Leicester struck back with a penalty of their own, Geordan Murphy on-target for the three pointer and, then, in injury time, put immense pressure on the Saracens defence to threaten their opponents’ tryline.
With the ball swiftly transferred down the right, the line beckoned for Tigers backrower Martin Corry, but some excellent defensive work by Saracens openside Richard Hill prevented a certain try, the flanker putting his body bravely between the ball and tryline.
Leicester had an early chance in the second half to level the scores with a penalty, but Murphy was off-target with the kick.
Murphy made amends in the 56th minute with a successful kick at goal and Leicester began to grind into gear as the final quarter arrived.
The best passage of the game soon resulted in Leicester’s second try. A deep counter-attack was sparked by Murphy saw the Tigers dash downfield, centre Ollie Smith showing tremendous pace to score in the right-hand corner.
Then, with just 11 minutes of normal time left on the clock, Lloyd burst through two defenders to give his side a 10 point lead.
With Murphy adding the conversion, there was simply too much left for Saracens to do and while they battled manfully until the very end – Andy Goode scoring a try for the visitors in the 80th minute – Leicester’s presence of mind enabled them to escape with a well-deserved victory.
Leicester Tigers:Tries: Josh Kronfeld, Leon Lloyd, Ollie SmithCons: Geordan MurphyPens: Geordan Murphy (2)
Saracens:Tries: Andy Goode, Adryan WinnanCon: Andy GoodePens: Adryan Winnan (2)