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Saracens thrash Leicester Tigers 49-10 at Allianz Park to go three points clear at the top of the Premiership
It may have been the first time ever at a live match in the UK that fans could watch replays on their mobile phones but there was little Leicester Tigers supporters would have wanted to see again at Allianz Park as Saracens romped to an emphatic 49-10 win over their title rivals.
The bonus-point victory puts the Men in Black three points clear at the top of the Premiership table and sends out a clear message to the rest of the league that this season Mark McCall's men really do mean business.
Six tries, four in the second half, were no less than Saracens deserved as Leicester were blown away by the hosts’ superior strength, pace and creativity.
The scoreline didn't flatter the Men in Black who crossed the line twice in the first period through Jack Wilson and Chris Ashton but Graham Kitchener kept Tigers in touch with the score 18-10 at half-time.
The Men in Black rolled through the gears after the break however, adding another 36 points without reply thanks to tries from Billy Vunipola, Jackson Wray, a penalty try and another score from Ashton.
Tim Streather was a late addition to the Sarries line-up after Marcelo Bosch was forced to withdraw due to illness.
David Strettle and Duncan Taylor both picked up minor knocks and were replaced by Wilson and Chris Wyles respectively. Alex Goode came back into the side at full-back, taking the place of young Ben Ransom.
Leicester started the game on the front foot but the visitors were unable to capitalise and with just seven minutes on the clock the Men in Black scored a try on the counter-attack.
Richard Wigglesworth made a break into Leicester’s half and Sarries distributed the ball wide at pace for Wilson to bundle his way over in the left-hand corner for his fourth try of the season.
Farrell added the conversion from out wide and four minutes later the fly-half chalked up three more points from a close-range penalty to give Saracens a 10-0 lead.
The hosts drew confidence from their early breakthrough and began to crank up the pressure. Chris Ashton was close to winning a long race to his own kick down field and moments later Sarries should have scored with an overlap out wide but Goode was unable to make the final pass under pressure.
Tigers recovered and managed to gain a foothold in the match. In the 23rd minute, Ryan Lamb reduced the gap to 10-3 after Billy Vunipola had infringed.
Sarries went back on the attack however and were close to scoring a second try until the visitors were penalised for offside. Farrell restored the ten-point advantage seven minutes before half-time with another close-range kick.
Moments later, Lamb struck wide from the tee after Matt Stevens had been penalised but two minutes before half-time, Tigers scored out of nothing.
Kitchener closed down Farrell’s clearance and scooped up the loose ball before cruising over the line for the visitor’s first try. Lamb added the conversion.
Perhaps with the adrenaline still pumping, Kitchener was then yellow carded for an off-the-ball spear tackle on Farrell and Sarries took immediate advantage of the extra man.
In the last play of the half, the Men in Black drove their line-out infield before spinning the ball out to Ashton who darted home in the right-hand corner.
Referee Waynes Barnes consulted TMO on suspicion of a forward pass from Wyles but he blew the whistle in the hosts’ favour and the try stood. Farrell missed the conversion with the last kick of the half as Sarries led 18-10.
It took less than five minutes in the second period for the Men in Black to extend their lead.
Wyles broke through the Leicester back line and before the visitors could recover, Wigglesworth released quick ball for Billy Vunipola to score. Farrell made no mistake with the conversion.
Leicester responded by subbing off their entire front row in the 47th minute but soon after Farrell extended the gap with his third successful penalty of the match.
There was a long break in play midway through the second half as Farrell received lengthy treatment from the medics. The fly-half was eventually carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Charlie Hodgson.
Both teams tried to stay warm with some passing drills during the delay but within moments of the restart Leicester were caught napping as Neil De Kock set up Wray for a fourth try to seal the bonus point before Saracens were awarded a penalty try soon after.
Hodgson converted both scores as Saracens led 42-10.
As the clock ticked down there was still time for one more score as Jamie George did brilliantly to offload to De Kock who quickly supplied Ashton to dive over.
Hodgson’s bending conversion from out wide sailed through the posts for 49-10 to complete a momentous afternoon for the Men in Black.
Saracens play Worcester Warriors away from home on Saturday.
Saracens: 15. Goode (Ransom, 70), 14. Ashton, 13. Bosch, 12. Wyles, 11. Wilson, 10. Farrell, 9. Wigglesworth (De Kock, 54), 1. Barrington (40, M. Vunipola), 2. George, 3. Stevens (Johnston, 54), 4. Borthwick (capt), 5. Hargreaves (Kruis, 57), 6. B. Vunipola, 7. Brown, 8. Joubert
Subs: 16. Brits, 17. M. Vunipola, 18. Johnstone, 19. Kruis, 20. Wray, 21. De Kock, 22. Hodgson, 23. Ransom
Leicester Tigers: 15. Tait, 14. Morris, 13. Goneva, 12. Smith (Heptema, 40), 11. Benjamin, 10. Lamb, 9. B. Youngs, 1. Stankovich (Youngs, 47) 2. Briggs (Ayerza, 47) 3. Balmain (Schuster, 47), 4. Slater, 5. Kitchener (De Chaves, 74), 6. Gibson, 7. Matera, 8. Crane (capt)
Subs: 16. T. Youngs, 15. Ayerza, 18. Schuster, 19. De Chaves, 20. Waldrom, 21. Mele, 22. Hepetema (Thompstone, 50), 23. Thompstone
Referee: Wayne Barnes
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