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Tigers win at Sarries to reach Anglo-Welsh final

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Leicester Tigers booked their place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final for a fourth time with a 32-10 victory over Saracens at Allianz Park on Saturday evening.

Tigers led from the eight minute when George Worth crossed for his first try in a Tigers shirt. And they took control with tries either side of half-time. Luke Hamilton finished off Harry Thacker’s 40m break just before the break and Ellis Genge ended another sweeping attack with a close-range finish.
 
Freddie Burns, who kicked 12 points for the visitors, made sure of a first-ever victory at Allianz Park with an 80m run after intercepting in his own 22.
 
The win booked Tigers a place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final at the Twickenham Stoop next Sunday, when they will play either Exeter Chiefs or Harlequins who contest the other semi-final tomorrow.
 
Mat Tait started at centre as he captained the team in their sixth Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final. Jack Roberts started alongside him after recovering from a hamstring injury. Worth returned from a spell with Nottingham to play at full-back.
 
Genge returned to the front row and was joined by George McGuigan and Fraser Balmain, with Graham Kitchener resuming in the second row alongside Harry Wells after recovering from a calf injury.  Thacker joined Hamilton and Lachlan McCaffrey in the back row.
 
The game was still settling down when Tigers took an eighth-minute lead. Burns’s crossfield kick picked out Brady in the Sarries 22, who tapped backwards towards the supporting Worth. The ball took a kind deflection off Worth’s shin and he reacted quickest to the loose ball to dot down for his first Tigers’ try. Burns converted to give Tigers a 7-0 lead.
 
Sarries had an instant chance to hit back when Kitchener pulled down Mark Flanagan at a lineout. Tom Whiteley’s penalty struck a post and bounced into Kelly Brown’s arms. But Tigers regrouped and Burns read Whiteley’s pass on his 22 only to be pulled back for a knock-on.
 
Tigers pressured Sarries at the scrum and forced the hosts into a handling error that was hacked to halfway by Tait. Matt Gallagher was whistled for holding on and when Sarries contested the decision referee Luke Pearce marched them back 10 bringing the posts within Burns’s range but he was wide with his kick.
 
Saracens captain Tim Streather was spoken to by referee Pearce after he pulled down Worth while contesting a high ball. The penalty allowed Tigers to kick for territory and when Saracens infringed at a breakdown Burns put them to within 5m.
 
Hamilton broke off the resulting maul but was stopped 5m out before Tigers spilled the ball a couple of phases later and Saracens cleared the danger.
 
Another high tackle, this time on Tait, resulted in another talking to for Streather. Burns landed the kick from the left flank to give Tigers a 10-0 lead 13 minutes before half-time.
 
Saracens responded with their first try. Scrum-half Henry Taylor made a scorching break and found Joel Conlon on his shoulder. Tait’s tackle stopped him 5m out but Taylor’s dummy created space to score next to the posts. Whiteley missed the conversion as Tigers led 10-5.
 
Burns had the chance to extend that lead with a scrum penalty but he was wide from 40m.
 
But Tigers did extend that lead one minute before the break with a second try. It looked like the chance had gone when McCaffrey’s grubber for Brady was launched back into the Tigers half by Gallagher.
 
But the ball was retrieved by Thacker, who returned it with interest. The back-rower somehow wriggled out of a pile of bodies on the Saracen’s 10m line and onto last-man Gallagher. He had Hamilton in support, who went over from 20m for his third try in this season’s competition. Burns converted to give Tigers a 17-5 lead at the break.
 
Tigers made a storming start to the second half. JP Pietersen’s deft pass put McGuigan through the Saracens defence and only a last-gasp tackle prevented him scoring. But Tigers made the position count and when Tait was stopped just short at the next phase, Genge finished from close range for his third try of the season. Unconverted, it gave Tigers a 22-5 lead.
 
Leicester almost scored a fourth try in the 48th minute. Wells charged down Taylor’s kick and Roberts reacted quickest but had his foot in touch as he dotted down.
 
Saracens sent on experienced replacements in Schalk Burger, Neil de Kock and Alex Lozowski. But Tigers remained in control and moved further ahead through a Burns penalty in the 55th minute.
 
The hosts scored a wonderfully worked try moments later. Neat hands and clever running lines created space on the left for Mike Ellery, who took the tackle from Worth and fed Gallagher for a simple finish at the corner. It cut Tigers’ lead to 25-10 with 20 minutes remaining.
 
Tigers came under pressure again at a 5m lineout. But good work by replacement lock Joe Maksymiw forced Hayden Thompson-Stringer into a knock-on and Burns cleared.
 
Burns was at the centre of the action moments later. The fly-half picked off a pass in his own 22 and had the legs to go the length of the field and hold of Nathan Earle’s desperate tackle to score Leicester’s fourth try. Burns converted his own try to move Leicester 32-10 ahead with 11 minutes remaining.
 
It was Burns’s last contribution and he was replaced by Owen Williams. Tom Croft replaced McCaffrey.

Tigers had to weather a late surge by Saracens as they hunted a consolation score in the closing stages. And they thought they had it with time up when Titi Lamositele burst onto a pass in midfield but play was pulled back for offside and with it full-time.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

SAR 5-17 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

SAR 10-32 LEI

Attendance

4,747

Referee

Luke Pearce

Match Stats

Saracens
Leicester Tigers
Possession
50%
50%
Territory
51%
49%
Penalties Conceded
11
10
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
135/152 89%
124/145 86%
Scrums Won
5/5 0%
5/6 17%
Lineouts Won
16/16 100%
8/8 100%

Player Stats

Saracens
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15George Worth1T
14
13
12
11
101T3C2P
9Jono Kitto
1Ellis Genge1T
2George McGuigan
3Fraser Balmain
4Harry Wells
5Graham Kitchener
61T
7Harry Thacker
8Lachlan McCaffrey
16
17Michele Rizzo
18Greg Bateman
19Joe Maksymiw
20Will Owen
21Ben White
22
23
Saracens
Saracens
10

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
32

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Matt Gallagher
14
Mike Ellery
13
Tim Streather
12
11
Nathan Earle
10
9
Henry Taylor
1
2
Jared Saunders
3
4
Fa'atiga Lemalu
5
Mark Flanagan
6
Kelly Brown
7
8
Samuela Vunisa

Subs

16
17
Hayden Thompson-Stringer
18
Titi Lamositele
19
Nick Isiekwe
20
21
Neil de Kock
22
Alex Lozowski
23
Form Guide
Form
WWLLD
Last Match
Draw with Bath Rugby 17-17
Past Meeting
Won 24-13
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WDWDD
Last Match
Draw with Bayonne null-null
Past Meeting
Lost 13-24