Saracens scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to beat Leicester Tigers 33-10 in Round 13 of the Gallagher Premiership at Allianz Park on Saturday.
On a day when Tigers became the first club to reach 500 Premiership games, they led 10-5 at half-time but had no response as Sarries built momentum around the hour mark to pull clear in the contest.
After an early penalty from Matt Toomua, Saracens fought back to lead with a try from scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth before the first half closed with George Worth releasing Jonah Holmes to score his fifth try of the season. The conversion made it 10-5 at the break.
But he game was won around the hour mark with Alex Lozowski kicking two penalties and then hooker Tom Woolstencroft claiming a crucial try to turn the screw as Sarries pinned Tigers back. Further scores followed from Ben Spencer and David Strettle as Sarries secured a bonus-point win.
Tigers travelled south with just one win in their last six league trips to Allianz Park and with both teams shorn of international players, though Dan Cole was released from the England squad to make his 150th Premiership appearance. Tom Varndell, meanwhile, made his first league appearance for the club since April 2009.
After kicking off, Sarries kept ball for the first six minutes on the edge of the Tigers 22, though they were met by stubborn defence and a timely tackler from Ben White as Alex Lozowski spotted a gap before Sione Kalamafoni forced ball loose with a ball hit in a central position.
Alex Goode shook off the after-effects of that tackle to make a dangerous break but he was caught 20 metres out and the counter-ruck forced the ball loose again.
Without any ball, Tigers were thankful for penalty awards at a defensive scrum and then at their own lineout just inside the Sarries half to release the pressure and, from that second decision, Toomua kicked them into a three-point lead.
Sarries replied immediately as Matt Gallagher returned a clearing kick and scrum-half Wigglesworth exchanged passes with Nick Isiekwe to score on the right. Lozowski was fractionally wide with his conversion attempt but the hosts led 5-3.
Tigers responded by enjoying more possession in attack, though they were kept out until Sarries won ball of their own around the 25-minute mark and sensed a chance when Lozowski’s chip kick bounced beyond Worth but then beat the closest attackers too as Tigers scrambled back.
Worth was then penalised as he claimed a high kick but his forward pack not only stood up to the lineout drive but also won back ball and Toomua hammered it clear.
White looked to inject some pace with a tap from a free-kick and a high tackle from Calum Clark was penalised, only for Toomua to pull the kick wide of the left-hand post.
There was still just enough time, though, to get back on the scoreboard with a well-taken try from Holmes.
Kyle Eastmond timed a pass to his right to perfection near halfway and Worth sold the defence a dummy as he broke forward before releasing Holmes to run in from 35 metres. Toomua added the conversion on the stroke of half-time with Tigers 10-5 in front.
With the wind now into their faces, Tigers kicked off the second half with no changes to either line-up.
Some bright in the backs brought a penalty award for Tigers, but the angle was tight for a kick at goal and Toomua pushed play into the right-hand corner. Clark was penalised at the lineout and this time, with the mark 15 metres in from the right-hand touchline, Toomua, though, pushed it just wide with five points still separating the teams.
Sarries sent on Will Skelton on 50 minutes and at the big second-row’s first involvement they won their first scrum penalty on halfway, giving Goode a chance to kick to the right-hand corner. A second whistle followed against Mike Williams at the lineout, then Sarries were playing with advantage for a third infringement when Gareth Owen was called for obstructing Goode.
Skipper Brad Barritt called for the kick to goal and Lozowski added the three-pointer to make it 8-10 with 55 minutes on the clock.
Ten points in a four-minute spell then swung momentum in the champions’ favour as Lozowski added a penalty after Holmes had been whistled in possession and then, in a repeat of that offence, they went to the corner and hooker Tom Woolstencroft took control to drive over for their second try of the day. Goode added the conversion for an 18-10 lead entering the last 15 minutes.
Goode missed an immediate opportunity to add to that but missed his penalty from the right-hand side.
Sam Aspland-Robinson was sent on for his Premiership debut in place of Owen but he was still waiting for his first touch of the ball when Tigers were penalised again in front of their own posts and Goode made it 21-10 with seven minutes left to play.
With Tigers forced to play from deep, Sarries ran in a third try when Ben Spencer picked off a pass from Toomua to run in and Goode added the extras, leaving them with just under three minutes in which to find a bonus-point score to return to the top of the table and it came as Strettle got on to turnover ball just a few metres out and dotted down on their right.