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Tigers return to top four with win over Sarries

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Leicester Tigers moved back into the Aviva Premiership top four with a 21-13 victory over defending champions Saracens at Welford Road.

On a day when 22,282 fans showed their respects for Seru Rabeni, his former team Tigers secured a victory that lifted them back into the play-off places.
 
Man-of-the-match Freddie Burns scored 16 of the points, including the opening try early in the second half as a moment of individual skill open a well-marshalled Sarries defence.
 
Vereniki Goneva added a second to finish off excellent work by Owen Williams and Sam Harrison.
 
Sarries, who dropped to second in the league, threatened to claim a losing bonus point as Alex Goode converted his own try and then landed a penalty to bring the visitors to within five points.
 
But Burns’s late drop goal sealed the victory and moved Tigers up to fourth in the table with five rounds left to play.
 
Williams returned to the Tigers line-up after making two appearances from the bench following his recovery from a broken jaw. He lined up alongside Peter Betham at centre. Tommy Bell replaced Mathew Tait at full-back.
 
Graham Kitchener came into the second row alongside Dom Barrow, with Mike Fitzgerald moving to the back row in the absence of Ed Slater. The team was captained from No8 by Jordan Crane. Greg Bateman and Opeti Fonua recovered from injury to take their place on the bench.
 
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off to celebrate the life of Rabeni, the former Tigers centre who passed away suddenly earlier this week.
 
Logovi’i Mulipola was at the heart of the early action for Tigers, his barrelling run only stopped by the whistle of referee JP Doyle for a forward pass before he and his front-row teammates won a penalty at the resulting scrum.
 
Saracens had the first chance to put points on the board when Thacker was ruled to have not rolled away as he competed on the floor. However, Marcelo Bosch was wide with his effort from halfway.
 
Sarries put together the first passage of possession, probing the Tigers defence around the edge of their 22. Indeed, the Tigers cause was not helped by a yellow card to Mulipola for a high tackle on Bosch. But their defence earned a penalty as Sarries infringed at their own 5m lineout and Burns found touch midway inside the Leicester half.
 
Fraser Balmain came on for Vereniki Goneva at the first scrum following Mulipola’s yellow card. Sarries were awarded a penalty at the scrum and Alex Goode landed his kick to give the visitors a 13th-minute lead.
 
Tigers hit back straight away. Betham pounced on loose ball to set them on the attack. But when he offloaded to Thacker, Goode tried to intercept from an offside position and Burns levelled the scores with the penalty.
 
Tigers were then called on to defend as Sarries carried hard. Their No8 Jackson Wray was crowded out on the right and Thacker pinched possession.
 
It was end-to end stuff and next it was Tigers’ turn to threaten. Sarries made a mess of Burns’s up-and-under, Thompstone pounced and kicked the loose ball ahead. Mike Ellery, heading back in-goal, just about found touch with Thompstone putting him under huge pressure.
 
With Tigers back to full strength following the return of Mulipola, Goneva tip-toed through a packed midfield and kicked ahead. His line appeared to be impeded by Ellery but referee Doyle played on and Goode tidied up.
 
It was all Tigers at this stage. Betham was the next to threaten but first he and then the supporting Kitto were scragged by the scrambling Saracens defence. Tigers kept the ball alive but Thompstone spilled Goneva’s pass with the line in sight.
 
Tom Croft came on as a blood replacement for Mike Fitzgerald after 27 minutes, but the momentum was still with Tigers. Thompstone spun out of a tackle and past the second tackler. Kitto’s supporting run was stopped just short before Crane was held up over the line at the next phase.
 
Tigers’ possession and pressure eventually told when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and Burns kicked them into the lead for the first time in the game with half-time approaching.
 
It remained 6-3 to the Tigers at half-time.
 
Tigers continued to press at the start of the second period. Betham charged down Mordt’s clearance on halfway and with no-one at home for the visitors was ahead in the foot race. However, Mordt pulled him back and was shown a yellow card.

Tigers took full advantage scoring 12 points during the sin-bin period.
 
Tigers used a set maul routine and looked to have broken through when Lachlan McCaffrey peeled away but was somehow stopped 5m out.

Eventually the pressure told and it was Burns who found the opening. The fly-half used McCaffrey’s supporting line as a dummy and went past replacement prop Petrus du Plessis to score behind the posts. He converted his own try to give Leicester a 13-3 lead after 46 minutes.
 
A stunning piece of work by Thacker had Welford Road on its feet. The hooker stripped Wray of possession on halfway and was only caught by Ellery by the time he was in the Sarries 22. Tigers had men on the right but Kitto went the other way and was crowded out.
 
It was Kitto’s last involvement, the scrum-half given a huge reception as he was replaced by Sam Harrison.
 
It was all Tigers and they fashioned a second try on 52 minutes. The chance appeared to have gone when Goneva was unable to collect Bell’s pass but Williams stayed alert, made ground up the wing, found Harrison inside who gave Goneva a run to the line.
 
Goneva then showed stunning skill in defence, reaching William’s charged-down kick in-goal in front of a number of Sarries attackers before tip-toeing along the deadball line for Williams to find touch.
 
Tigers were now under the pump in defence as Sarries, now back up to 15, kicked a series of penalties to the corner. Referee Doyle gave Tigers a team warning for infringing, before Saracens opted for a scrum in front of the posts.
 
Sarries controlled the scrum and Goode ran an angled line onto Richard Wigglesworth’s pass to score next to the posts. Goode converted to cut Leicester’s lead to 18-10 with 15 minutes remaining.
 
Goode pulled Saracens to within sight of a bonus point when he landed a penalty from wide on the right after Kelly Brown was dragged down at a lineout.
 
There was plenty of nervousness around Welford Road as the game ticked into the last 10 minutes. It was eased somewhat when McCaffery and Telusa Veainu broke out from their own 22 and forced Goode to concede a lineout on their 22.
 
There was no way through for replacement No8 Fonua or Mulipola as Tigers hammered away at the Sarries defence. But Tigers ensured they came away with points, Burns sitting back to drop the goal that took Tigers 21-13 ahead.
 
Saracens finished the game with 14 men when Ellery was yellow-carded for a no-arms tackle on McCaffrey.
 
Saracens missed the chance to secure a bonus point late on when Goode miscued a penalty from the left. It was left to Tigers to see out the final few seconds and secure an 11th win of the league season.

 

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 6-3 SAR

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 21-13 SAR

Attendance

22,282

Referee

JP Doyle

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Saracens
Possession
61%
39%
Territory
66%
34%
Penalties Conceded
11
10
Yellow Cards
1
2
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
74/87 85%
148/188 79%
Scrums Won
2/2 100%
6/9 67%
Lineouts Won
16/16 0%
12/12 0%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Saracens
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Tommy Bell
14
13Peter Betham
12
111T
101T1C1D2P
9Jono Kitto
1Marcos Ayerza
2Harry Thacker
3Logovi'i Mulipola
4
5Graham Kitchener
6
7Lachlan McCaffrey
8
16Greg Bateman
17Ellis Genge
18Fraser Balmain
19
20
21
22
23Telusa Veainu
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
21

Full Time

Saracens
Saracens
13

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Tommy Bell
15
Tommy Bell
Peter Betham
13
Peter Betham
12
11
10
Jono Kitto
9
Jono Kitto
Marcos Ayerza
1
Marcos Ayerza
4
Lachlan McCaffrey
7
Lachlan McCaffrey
8

Subs

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
14
Mike Ellery
13
12
11
10
Nils Mordt
9
Neil de Kock
1
2
Schalk Brits
3
4
Jim Hamilton
5
Alistair Hargreaves
6
7
Kelly Brown
8

Subs

16
17
Titi Lamositele
18
19
Hayden Smith
20
21
Richard Wigglesworth
22
23
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Saracens
SaracensSAR22171458037620460368280
4
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2214085094753455486365
Form Guide
Form
DWDDD
Last Match
Draw with Brive null-null
Past Meeting
Lost 13-24
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WWLLD
Last Match
Draw with Bath Rugby 17-17
Past Meeting
Won 24-13