Planet Rugby

Saracens seal comeback over Tigers

23rd February 2013 21:52

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David Strettle Saracens AVP 2012

Brace: David Strettle

A second-half resurgence from Saracens handed the 2011 Premiership champions a 27-32 victory over Leicester at Welford Road.

Trailing 17-6 at half time, Saracens scored four tries in a one-sided second-half to stay in second place in the Aviva Premiership.

It was their fourth successive win at Leicester, who have suffered two successive defeats having lost at champions Harlequins last week.

Saracens' tries came from wingers David Strettle (two), James Short and full-back Chris Wyles, with fly half Charlie Hodgson kicking 12 points.

Julian Salvi and Dan Bowden scored for Leicester, who were also awarded a penalty try right on full-time when Strettle deliberately knocked on and was sin binned.

Both sides were heavily depleted due to the Six Nations but the Tigers, whose five-match winning run in the Premiership was ended by the Quins last week, were boosted by the return from injury of captain Geordan Murphy and England flanker Tom Croft in front of a 20,000 crowd.

The sides, second and third in the table, drew 9-9 at Wembley in round three but Saracens made a fine start as former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson gave them the lead with a fourth-minute penalty.

Leicester then started to take control and young fly-half George Ford, who is expected to join Bath next season, caused major problems for the Saracens defence with passes that put both Murphy and winger Scott Hamilton through holes.

Ford, however, had left his kicking boots at home and missed relatively easy penalties in the seventh and 17th minutes before finally equalising with one from bang in front of the posts.

Saracens' best moments came at the start of the second quarter when full-back Chris Wyles and centre Joel Tomkins combined well down the right, before winger James Short sparked a fine counter-attack from a quick throw-in.

They failed to rattle the scoreboard though and in the 29th minute found themselves 10-3 down after great work by number eight Jordan Crane in winning a loose ball on half way and Ford, whose kick to the corner earned Leicester a line-out.

It led to the first try of the match, for flanker Salvi after giant prop Logovi'i Mulipola's charge to the line and Ford added the conversion to make it 10-3.

That became 17-3 three minutes later when centre Bowden scored from Ford's brilliant chip after a searing counter-attack by the lively Murphy and winger Adam Thompstone.

Ford kicked the conversion before Hodgson pulled three points back for Saracens with a 36th-minute penalty.

Both sides kicked too much at the start of the second half as the snow continued to fall and while Saracens upped their game they found Leicester's defence rock solid until Strettle produced a bit of magic from a ruck in the 53rd minute.

The try and Hodgson's conversion put Saracens right back in the game at 17-13 and when Short shrugged off a couple of tackles on the right to score a fine solo try three minutes later Saracens took the lead again, leaving the crowd stunned.

Hodgson missed the conversion but 12 points in 16 minutes had given Saracens the momentum.

They then scored their third try two minutes later when Strettle scampered over for his second try after great work by replacement scrum-half Neil de Kock. Hodgson added the conversion to put them 25-17 ahead.

Ford reduced the arrears to five points with a 72nd-minute penalty but Saracens full-back Wyles made the game safe with his side's bonus point try six minutes from time. Hodgson added the conversion.

Leicester were awarded a penalty try at the death after Strettle was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on, with Ford kicking the conversion.

The scorers:

For Leicester:
Tries: Salvi, Bowden, Penalty
Cons: Ford 3
Pens: Ford 2

For Saracens:
Tries: Strettle 2, Short, Wyles
Cons: Hodgson 3
Pens: Hodgson 2
Yellow Cards: Strettle, Taylor

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Micky Young, 22 Matt Cornwell, 23 Mathew Tait.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 James Short, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Adam Powell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Nigel Carrick
Timekeeper: Brian Abrahams
Television match official: Graham Hughes
Assessor: Clive Leeke

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