Saracens 26-6 Leicester: Unstoppable Sarries thump Tigers with a hat-trick of penalty tries at Allianz Park
Sarries led narrowly 7-6 at the break thanks to a penalty try, converted by Charlie Hodgson
Two further penalty scores plus a touchdown from Jamie George gave the hosts the comfortable win
Freddie Burns kicked two penalties for the Tigers
Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens made it eight wins from eight as they earned a bonus-point victory over title rivals Leicester at a wet and windy Allianz Park.
A tight and tense opening 40 saw league leaders Sarries hold a narrow 76 lead at the break thanks to a penalty try, converted by Charlie Hodgson while Freddie Burns knocked over two penalties for the battling visitors.
Replacement hooker Jamie George bundled over to extend Saracens’ lead two minutes after the restart before the hosts added two more penalty tries as their forwards dominated to make it 12 straight wins in all competitions.
Mark McCall’s Sarries now hold a six-point lead at the top of the table over Exeter, while Leicester succumbed to just their second loss of the season.
Burns got the game underway for Leicester as the visitors started the game brightly, putting Sarries under pressure with a series of clever grubber kicks and two good visits to their 22.
The Tigers then deservedly went ahead through a penalty from Burns after six minutes, giving the visitors a three-point lead following their bright start.
However, the host’s in-form pack earned Saracens the lead as the referee awarded a penalty try following a strong, no less than 13-man lineout drive. Veteran kicker Hodgson then stepped up to add the extras, 3-7.
Another Burns penalty for the Tigers after 22 minutes though closed the gap to just a single point.
Hodgson then had an opportunity to edge the hosts further in front but saw his kick from the tee drift wide as the games continued to be in the balance, with Sarries leading narrowly 7-6 at the break
The in-form George, who replaced Schalk Brits at the break, took just two second-half minutes to power over at a back of a driving maul. Hodgson couldn’t convert as Sarries extended their lead to six points.
Saracens got their third try just shy of the hour as the referee awarded the hosts a second penalty try following some misbehaviour at the scrum from Leicester and, this time, Hodgson added the extras, 17-6.
A second penalty try for the London club saw them move further ahead of Leicester, giving Hodgson a much easier chance to add the extras from the tee.
After a succession of scrums on Leicester’s five-metre line had been penalised, Dan Cole saw yellow on his 100th Premiership appearance while the third penalty try secured the bonus point for Saracens seeing them move further ahead at the top of the Premiership.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Saracens: The whole Sarries pack
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Laurence Pearce, 7 Tom Croft, 6 Ed Slater (c), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Adam Thompstone.
Date: Saturday, January 2
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Peter Huckle
TMO: Graham Hughes