Leicester Tigers suffered a 51-18 defeat at Saracens in Round 4 of the Gallagher Premiership season on Saturday.
Saracens had started the season with two bonus-point wins, against Harlequins and Gloucester, and they added a third, setting the foundations with four tries in the first half and then adding three more after the break to fend off Tigers who scored through James Cronin and Freddie Steward.
The Tigers team showed eight changes to the line-up from the win at Northampton Saints in Round 3, with Anthony Watson making his debut and fellow summer signings Phil Cokanasiga and Olly Cracknell given a first start. Handrè Pollard was selected among the replacements.
Saracens added Callum Hunter-Hill and Nick Tompkins to the starting line-up, with Hugh Tizard in the second row in a week which also featured his first call-up to the England squad.
Tigers, in red, got the game started and two early handling errors from Sarries kept play at their end of the field, aided by a penalty at the opening scrum.
The first points came as Tigers converted territory into scoreboard movement when the referee whistled against Sarries in defence and Burns kicked the penalty with six minutes played.
He soon doubled that lead but, when Tigers were whistled in defence immediately afterwards, Owen Farrell opened his account with the kick from 25 metres, sand they quickly followed with a try from Alex Lozowski.
Play was confined to the Sarries end when they decided to go from deep and exchanges from Alex Lewington and Ivan van Zyl gave centre Lozowski the run-in to score. The conversion from Farrell made it 10-6.
Ben Earl thought he’d added a second when he chased a chip from Max Malins, but referee Carley checked with the TMO on a shove from the flanker on opposite number Tommy Reffell in-goal and awarded the penalty to the visitors.
Back-rower Earl would have to wait for his try until after Cronin ran in for Tigers, following a chip-kick from Burns and benfiting from the bounce to score.
The conversion made it 13-10 to the visitors, but only for two minutes as Elliot Daly broke for Saracens and put Earl free to score in the right-hand corner.
Sarries were penalised twice in defence as the game entered the second quarter, but Tigers were kept out and then Jamie George cut a fine line in attack to set up a third try for the home side, this time Max Malins benefiting from the break to dive over. Farrell’s conversion made it 22-13.
The referee spoke to Farrell about the build-up of penalties approaching half-time, and Cokanasiga sensed an opportunity before Lozowski and Malins made the tackle and won a turnover.
The home side then cheered a bonus-point try, with scrum-half Ivan van Zyl making the final reach to the line after pressure on the right. Farrell’s conversion kick came out off the post but he led his team back to the changing rooms 27-13 in front at the break.
Pollard’s first contribution was a break through midfield, and Tigers broke again from deep shortly afterwards, gaining a penalty which led to set-piece pressure until Cronin drove for the line again, only to be held up under the posts.
Martin broke through two tacklers to get Tigers forward again and the next scrum brought a penalty which Tigers used to create position for the second try, with Steward scoring for a fourth time in eight days after strong work up front and then by Watson and Cokanasiga to spin out of contact and dot down in the left corner.
After a missed conversion, Tigers were quickly back into rival territory and rewarded with a lineout penalty when Harry Wells was impeded. But they were frustrated by the defence, first as Theo McFarland clawed lineout ball back and then when with a penalty on the floor just 10 metres out from the tryline.
A Tommy Reffell turnover gained reward on the edge of the Saracens 22, but when they went for the lineout the whistle went the other way for obstruction just as the flanker linked with Charlie Clare at the front.
Retribution came quickly as Daly scored a fifth try, capitalising on set-piece ball on the right and then wriggling out of a tackle to score on the opposite side.
The conversion stretched the lead to 34-18 with an hour played and Sarries quickly added to the total as a one-handed lineout catch from McFarland set up a penalty for Farrell and then flanker McFarland added a try from a set-piece with the extras taking the score to 44-18.
Harry Wells stepped in to win a penalty on the floor as the game reached its closing five minutes with Tigers looking for the final score of the game, but it went the other way as Sean Maitland picked off loose ball upfield and ran away to dot down a seventh try for Sarries, despite a late fumblem, and the conversion from Daly took the tally past the half-century.