Tigers pounce on wounded Saracens
January 2, 2010
Ben Youngs stretches the Saracens defence
© Getty Images
Leicester inflicted back-to-back defeats on Saracens by triumphing 22-15 at Vicarage Road thanks to a second-half try from centre Dan Hipkiss and a 17-point haul from fly-half Toby Flood.
Saracens earned a losing bonus point to remain top of the table - but after four unbeaten months they have now lost on consecutive weekends to London Irish and Leicester, last season's grand finalists.
The Tigers dominated possession and territory in the opening 40 minutes but trailed 6-3 after a typically defiant defensive display from Brendan Venter's Saracens.
Justin Marshall's try-saving tackle on Scott Hamilton and a bone-shuddering hit from Brad Barritt on Lote Tuqiri typified why Sarries have been so hard to beat this season. But after the interval, Hipkiss chiselled his way over and Leicester then cranked up the pressure with a raft of penalties and a destructive forwards' performance.
Their pack fired an early warning signal when they drove Saracens back 15 metres in the scrum before referee David Rose awarded them a penalty. Flood failed to equalise Glenn Jackson's early strike but the miss did little to halt Leicester's momentum.
The forwards earned quick ball for impressive scrum-half Ben Youngs and Flood, who pressed his case for a recall to the England set-up, but Saracens' defence held firm. Leicester were forced into a change when Anthony Allen limped out of the game and Jeremy Staunton came on at fly-half with Flood moving to inside centre. The Tigers' best scoring chance of the half followed an over-hit cross-kick from Jackson, which allowed Staunton and Hamilton to launch a counter-attack.
Marshall tracked his fellow New Zealander and pulled off a brilliant tackle in the corner but he could not force Hamilton out and the Tigers drew a penalty which Flood converted. Saracens responded positively with Marshall taking a quick tap before releasing Andy Saull, who chipped in behind the Leicester defence before being taken out off the ball by Leicester prop Boris Stankovich, who was sin-binned for his efforts.
Saracens had one attempt at scoring from close range but then opted for the points, which Jackson slotted to secure the half-time lead.
Derick Hougaard replaced Jackson at the interval and almost immediately extended Saracens' advantage to 9-3 with a penalty from half-way before Hipkiss scored a classic Leicester try. Ben Youngs' tap penalty took Leicester within striking distance and after sustained forward pressure, Hipkiss was on hand to score the only try of the game.
Hougaard and Flood exchanged penalties before Hamilton launched a counter-attack from deep inside his 22, linked with Tuqiri and had Saracens stretched when Youngs' pass deflected off Steve Borthwick.
The England captain was sin-binned for off-side and although Flood missed that penalty shot - but Leicester's dominant pack soon splintered Saracens' scrum again and Flood kicked the Tigers clear.
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden
In the blink of an eye, a winger can go from a hero to villain. Hugh Godwin talks to Zac Guildford and David Strettle about life on the flank
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time