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- Aviva Premiership
- 10th May 2014
- KO 15:15
- Ground: Welford Road
- Att: 24,000
Aviva Premiership: Leicester beat Saracens to seal third spot and a semi with Northampton
- Aviva final day preview
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- Richards promises improvement
- Mallinder stays grounded
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- McCall slams touch judge
- Davies left disappointed
- Quins win to make play-offs
- Rampant Saints record victory
- Worcester down with a win
- Exiles end on a high
- Comfortable win for Chiefs
Leicester Tigers will play great rivals Northampton Saints away in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals next weekend after clinching third place with a bonus-point victory over leaders Saracens at Welford Road.
The reigning champions claimed a 31-27 victory after coming out on top in a dramatic 21-minute period either side of half time when six tries were scored, Saracens winger Michael Tagicakibau was sin-binned and flanker Justin Melck was sent off for what appeared to be eye-gouging.
Leicester hit back from 8-3 to take a 10-8 lead just before half time thanks to a penalty try, while further touch downs from Manu Tuilagi, Blaine Scully and Graham Kitchener ensured they took a bonus point.
Saracens' tries came from Ben Spencer (two), a penalty try and Jack Wilson, with Spencer's second four minutes from time earning his side a losing bonus point. They will play Harlequins, who beat Bath, in the other semi-final at home.
Both sides were under-strength, especially Saracens who rested most of their top 30 players, with a Heineken Cup final and possibly the Premiership final on the horizon.
Leicester won the first half 10-8 but the small advantage came at a cost as the injuries started to mount with Owen Williams, David Mele, prop Boris Stankovich and lock Geoff Parling all picking up knocks.
Saracens took the lead after some bright play resulted in scrum-half Ben Spencer making a break through the front of a ruck. Although he was held short of the line he reached and put the ball down over the line.
Former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson missed the conversion on an afternoon when the strong wind made it difficult for the kickers, and three minutes later Williams pulled three points back with a penalty from in front of the posts.
Saracens came close to scoring a second in the eighth minute after Hodgson beat Thomas Waldrom on halfway and made a fabulous break. Although the Tigers managed to prevent a try they conceded a penalty, which Hodgson slotted.
Williams missed a long range penalty before he, and then Parling, suffered injuries and were replaced by Dan Bowden and Kitchener.
Leicester would get their noses in front by the interval as they marched Saracens back from a close-range scrum leading the referee to award a penalty try, with Flood adding the extras to put the Tigers 10-8 ahead.
Within four minutes of the restart that lead had become 17-8 and Saracens were reduced to 13 men after winger Tagicakibau was sin-binned for a tip tackle on Ayerza and flanker Melck sent off for what appeared to be gouging.
A minute after the yellow card, Leicester's forwards rumbled towards the line and Flood put Tuilagi over under the posts.
Four minutes later Leicester got their third try in nine minutes, Morris making a break before passing inside for fellow wing Scully to score, Flood adding the conversion.
Saracens hit back in the 54th minute, the referee awarding them a penalty try after Leicester had collapsed a terrific rolling maul. Ben Spencer converted to make it 24-15.
Four minutes later, Kitchener scored at the other end, Flood converting, and Croft immediately replaced Mafi.
Croft had hardly got on the field when Saracens winger Wilson scored his side's third try. In 20 frantic minutes both sides had scored six tries and Saracens had been shown a yellow and a red card.
With four minutes left Spencer intercepted a pass from Thomas Waldrom and ran 70 yards to score in the right corner before converting, but the Tigers were able to close out the victory.
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|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com