The Leicester fly-half Freddie Burns was the star of the show at Welford Road as the Tigers kept up their top-four ambitions with a 21-13 win over the former league leaders Saracens.
Burns scored a try, conversion, two penalties and a drop goal as Saracens failed to reclaim top spot in the premiership after Exeter had beaten Northampton earlier on Sunday. His 16-point haul also ensured Leicester moved back into the play-off places on an emotional afternoon at Welford Road. The match kicked off after the home crowd had risen to pay tribute to former Tiger Seru Rabeni, who died this week at the age of 37.
Leicester showed attacking intent from the very start of the match, running back a kick in the second minute. Graham Kitchener looked to have put Logovi’i Mulipola into space but Leicester were called back for a forward pass that looked marginal. From the resulting scrum, the home side were able to lay down an immediate marker as they pressured the Saracens pack into conceding a penalty.
The visitors were able to clear their lines at the next scrum and earned the first scoring opportunity with Leicester penalised at the ruck but Marcelo Bosch’s long-range attempt drifted wide. However, the Tigers were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes after Mulipola was shown the yellow card for a swinging arm on the Argentinian centre Bosch.
Saracens capitalised at the very next scrum, forcing a penalty that Alex Goode kicked with ease. The lead lasted less than two minutes though as Saracens conceded a kickable penalty that Burns converted.
Following this exchange of penalties the game sparked into life, racing from end to end as both sides saw promising attacks snuffed out by errors and turnovers. The Leicester wing Adam Thompstone was guilty of squandering the best chance, dropping the final pass with a clear run to the line after some excellent phase play.
Saracens were unable to clear their lines and the home side continued to mount attacks close to the try line. The Tigers scrum-half Jono Kitto was inches short when hauled down by Kelly Brown and the home side were forced to settle for another Burns penalty.
The second half started as the first had: with an early yellow card. This time it was Saracens who were reduced to 14 men as their fly-half Nils Mordt was punished for pulling back Peter Betham. The home side made their numerical superiority count as Burns danced his way over for the opening try of the match in the 46th minute. He touched down under the posts before adding the conversion.
A second try soon followed as Owen Williams made the most of a loose ball by breaking down the left flank and finding Sam Harrison in support. He in turn found Vereniki Goneva who raced over for the score.
Saracens responded with their best spell of pressure, camped on the Leicester line and forced a succession of penalty before Goode barrelled his way over from close range and added the extras. Two minutes later, the discarded England man closed the gap further with a penalty after the Tigers infringed at a lineout.
But hopes of a comeback were snuffed out as Burns added a drop goal to his personal haul for the afternoon, ensuring Saracens were knocked off top spot by the Exeter Chiefs.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/mar/20/leicester-saracens-premiership-rugby-match-report