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Tigers go down to semi-final defeat

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Leicester Tigers' Aviva Premiership campaign ended at the semi-final stage on Saturday afternoon with a 44-17 defeat to Saracens.

Saracens led from the third minute at Allianz Park when Will Fraser crossed for the opening try. And the hosts ran away with the first half, turning round at the break 31-0 ahead after further tries for wingers Chris Wyles (2) and Chris Ashton.
 
Tigers staged something of a fightback at the start of the second period as tries for Telusa Veainu and Dom Barrow saw them score 17 unanswered points in 12 minutes.
 
But they had far too much to do against the European champions, who secured their place in next week’s Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham thanks to a second try for Ashton and the kicking accuracy of Charlie Hodgson on his final home appearance for Sarries.
 
Manu Tuilagi returned to the starting XV alongside Peter Betham at centre. Mathew Tait captained the team from full-back with Veainu and Vereniki Goneva on the wings. Mike Fitzgerald and Brendon O’Connor also returned to the team, joining Lachlan McCaffrey in the back row. Harry Thacker was named alongside internationals Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole in the front row
 
Saracens, who lifted the European Champions Cup for the first time in Lyon last week, included the Aviva Premiership Player of the Year Alex Goode at full-back and the Land Rover Discovery of the Year Maro Itoje in their pack.
 
Tigers thought they had got off to the perfect start when Tuilagi followed up Ben Youngs’s break to dot down under the posts. However, the score was ruled out by the TMO for Dom Barrow playing the ball on the floor and Saracens kicked play up to the Leicester 22.
 
Tigers were put under pressure for the first time by Chris Ashton’s break down the left. He was hauled down by McCaffrey but Sarries kept the ball alive and slick handling by Schalk Brits and George Kruis opened a gap for Fraser to power over from close range. Owen Farrell’s extras gave the hosts a 7-0 lead.
 
Veianu was called on in defence and attack in a matter of seconds. He was alert to Richard Wigglesworth’s kick behind to dot down in-goal and was then close to intercepting a pass on halfway, the winger unable to collect with the Sarries half to run into.
 
Next it was Tigers' turn to pressure Saracens' defence. A simple passing move earned 30m before Youngs’s up-and-under allowed Kitchener to test Goode under the high ball, but the Tigers man knocked on as he jumped above the Saracens full-back.
 
Only the bounce of the ball then prevented Veainu gathering possession on the edge of the Saracens 22 with Goode and Wyles wrong-footed.
 
However, it was Saracens who scored the game’s second try. Tigers had put together a series of phases to take play up to halfway but Wyles picked off Williams’s grubber kick, stepped inside and had a free run to the posts. Farrell converted to put Sarries 14-0 ahead.
 
Tuilagi was withdrawn with a hamstring issue forcing a rejig to the backline. Tait moved to centre, Veainu to full-back with Adam Thompstone coming onto the wing.
 
Tigers fell further behind when Saracens worked a third try off the back of a scrum. Billy Vunipola's surge created the opening but Ashton still had plenty to do when he collected Goode’s pass on the right where he held off Goneva’s tackle to score at the corner. Farrell’s touchline conversion gave Saracens a 21-0 lead.
 
Farrell maintained his 100 per cent kicking record with a penalty from close to halfway to extend Saracens’ lead to 24-0.
 
The Saracens defence were up quick at every opportunity. And their defence forced Tigers into another error with half-time approaching when Wyles intercepted Youngs's pass inside his own half and ran 70m to score the hosts’ fourth of the game. Farrell converted with the last kick of the half to send Saracens in at the break 31-0 ahead.
 
Tigers flew out of the traps at the start of the second half to score a try within 30 seconds. Williams stepped through the midfield and he had Veainu on a supporting line on the left wing to score Leicester’s first points. Williams converted to leave Leicester 31-7 down.
 
Williams then added a penalty following Itoje’s high tackle on Youngs to cut the deficit by three more points.
 
A big hit by Betham on Farrell was rewarded with a holding-on penalty the Tigers’ side of the halfway line to maintain the momentum at the start of the season half. Williams pointed to the posts but pushed his kick wide.
 
A Tigers counterattack from deep then earned a 5m lineout as Ashton ran Thompstone’s kick into touch. Tigers were awarded a penalty at the lineout, Youngs tapped and went and was immediately tackled by Fraser. Referee JP Doyle issued a yellow card to Fraser and Tigers went to the corner again.
 
Tigers had another penalty advantage as Sarries came in at the side of the maul but they kept the drive going and Barrow burrowed over. Williams added the conversion and Tigers had scored 17 points in 12 minutes at the start of the second period.
 
Saracens stemmed the flow with a strong lineout drive that was dragged down by Graham Kitchener on the Tigers 22. Farrell, kicking into the wind, was short with his kick but it allowed his teammates to compete for possession and they eventually knocked on giving Tigers a scrum put-in in the shadow of their posts.
 
However, Tigers were unable to clear their lines and came back under pressure as Saracens kept the ball tight to inch their way up to the line. Tigers went offside in defence and Charlie Hodgson, on as a replacement for the injured Farrell, kicked Sarries into a 34-17 lead as the clock ticked into the final quarter.
 
Thompstone tried to speed things up by tapping a 22 restart to himself but was isolated and whistled for holding on and Hodgson kicked the penalty to move them three scores ahead.

Saracens extended their lead moments later with a try that stemmed from Tigers’ mistakes. Leicester failed to control ball at the back of a ruck and Itoje hacked ahead. Goneva and Veainu looked to be in control but Ashton burst through, kicked further ahead to score. Hodgson’s extras set the seal on Saracens’ win.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

SAR 31-0 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

SAR 44-17 LEI

Attendance

9,932

Referee

JP Doyle

Saracens
Saracens
44

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
17

Match Stats

Saracens
Leicester Tigers
Possession
43%
57%
Territory
51%
49%
Penalties Conceded
10
9
Yellow Cards
1
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
128/158 81%
75/91 82%
Scrums Won
4/6 67%
4/6 67%
Lineouts Won
14/14 0%
8/8 0%

Player Stats

Saracens
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Mathew Tait
14Telusa Veainu1T
13Peter Betham
12Manu Tuilagi
11Vereniki Goneva
10Owen Williams2C1P
9Ben Youngs
1Marcos Ayerza
2Harry Thacker
3Dan Cole
4Dom Barrow1T
5Graham Kitchener
6Michael Fitzgerald
7Brendon O'Connor
8Lachlan McCaffrey
16Leonardo Ghiraldini
17Ellis Genge
18Logovi'i Mulipola
19Ed Slater
20Will Evans
21Jono Kitto
22Tommy Bell
23Adam Thompstone

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Peter Betham
13
Peter Betham
Vereniki Goneva
11
Vereniki Goneva
Owen Williams
10
Owen Williams
Marcos Ayerza
1
Marcos Ayerza
Dom Barrow
4
Dom Barrow
Lachlan McCaffrey
8
Lachlan McCaffrey

Subs

Leonardo Ghiraldini
16
Leonardo Ghiraldini
Ed Slater
19
Ed Slater
Jono Kitto
21
Jono Kitto
Tommy Bell
22
Tommy Bell

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Alex Goode
14
Chris Ashton
13
Duncan Taylor
12
Brad Barritt
11
Chris Wyles
10
Owen Farrell
9
Richard Wigglesworth
1
Mako Vunipola
2
Schalk Brits
3
Petrus Du Plessis
4
Maro Itoje
5
George Kruis
6
Michael Rhodes
7
Will Fraser
8
Billy Vunipola

Subs

16
Jamie George
17
Richard Barrington
18
Juan Figallo
19
Jim Hamilton
20
Jackson Wray
21
Neil de Kock
22
Charlie Hodgson
23
Marcelo Bosch
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Saracens
SaracensSAR22171458037620460368280
4
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2214085094753455486365
Form Guide
Form
WWLLD
Last Match
Draw with Bath Rugby 17-17
Past Meeting
Won 24-13
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WLWLW
Last Match
Beat Wasps 38-31
Past Meeting
Lost 13-24