Saracens ended an eight game losing streak as they battled their way past a poor Leicester Tigers team at Welford Road. A penalty try, along with a score from Jamie George and 17 points from Owen Farrell’s boot gave Saracens a 17-29 victory.
The early stages were littered with Leicester indisciplines, and Farrell put his team 3-0 up, before Jonny May was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on just minutes later. After consultation with his TMO, referee Matthew Carley awarded Saracens a penalty try. It was the perfect start for a team in turmoil.
Having been defending since Jonny May’s return from the bin, Saracens found themselves 17-0 up after 25 minutes. From an attacking line-out just outside the 22, a series of strong carries from Saracens’ bulky forwards pushed their side forward, before England hooker Jamie George embarked on a trade mark run, scoring between the posts.
Saracens’ defence looked strong against a star-studded Leicester back-line, but Mathew Tait was able to breach it, scoring after a brilliant offload from Adam Thompstone. The gap was created after some wonderful play in midfield by Ford and Matt Toomua.
It’s thought that Eddie Jones is looking to pick a strong ball carrier at inside center, and if George Ford and Farrell were competing for the fly-half shirt today, the Saracen clearly won this initial battle. With the help of Alex Lozowski (deputising at 12 in Brad Barritt’s absence), Farrell was able to control the game, pinning Leicester inside their own half, while organising his backs at the same time.
Farrell put Saracens 23-10 up early in the second half, slotting a rare drop goal between the sticks – only the second drop goal the England playmaker has scored in a seven year career for his side.
Despite the 13 point deficit they faced, the Leicester scrum was dominant, and eventually Matthew Carley awarded the second penalty try of the game, this time against a struggling Saracens pack.
Straight away, Saracens were back in the ascendency, as they claimed the ball from the restart. Their vicious tirade on the Leicester defence proved unsuccessful, but Farrell hit a penalty to increase his sides’ lead to nine points.
Tigers’ hopes of victory diminished rapidly with ten minutes to go, as Jonny May received his second yellow card, for another deliberate knock on. Farrell slotted the ensuing penalty.
Leicester were unable to have any impact on the game in the closing stages, and a Saracens side won to end their worst losing run for 15 years.
Manu Tuilagi was largely ineffective, apart from a few trademark carries through Saracens defenders. Tigers DOR Matt O’Connor desperately needs his star player to stand up if they’re to end a five game losing streak.