Sarries win summit battle
Alex Goode kicked five penalties as Saracens claimed a 15-14 victory over Aviva Premiership leaders Leicester at Welford Road.
By Alex Williams
Last Updated: 05/03/11 6:42pm
Alex Goode kicked five penalties as second-placed Saracens claimed a 15-14 victory over Aviva Premiership leaders Leicester at Welford Road.
In a rematch of last season's final, Leicester surged ahead through a brilliant try from Manu Tuilagi as they took control of the match in the first half.
Saracens enjoyed plenty of territory and possession throughout the contest but could not seem to find a way past a stern Tigers defence and had to rely on the boot of Goode.
However, the hosts were made to pay the price for a lacklustre showing in the second half as Sarries turned the match around and Billy Twelvetrees missed a last-gasp attempt to steal victory for the hosts.
The visitors made a solid start to the contest and took the lead five minutes in as full-back Goode slotted over a penalty after Saracens had forced an infringement at the breakdown.
But two minutes later Leicester were back on level terms as Jeremy Staunton scored three points of his own when Saracens did not roll away after the tackle.
Wing David Strettle was almost in when he dropped the dangerous restart kick with the Tigers defence scrambling, but Goode did manage to edge Sarries back ahead with another penalty after Leicester were penalised for offside.
The home side finally began to assert some pressure after a great kick to touch from Staunton and were rewarded when the fly-half made it 6-6 with a kick from just inside the opposition half.
But the game continued to be contested mainly in Leicester territory until a dynamic move allowed the Tigers to score the game's only try in the 29th minute.
Alesana Tuilagi spun a fine pass out wide to his younger brother Manu, with the centre racing away down the wing to score in the corner after barging through an attempted tackle from Goode.
Staunton was badly off target with the touchline conversion, but made no mistake with a simple penalty after Saracens were whistled for offside as Leicester began to take control.
Goode did manage to reduce the deficit to 14-9 with his third penalty, but it was Leicester who again looked the more threatening before the half-time interval.
Both sides struggled to make any real inroads at the start of the second half, with the Tigers failing to maintain the momentum they built before the interval.
Sarries managed to slow the game down to their pace, going through an enormous number of phases during a lengthy period of possession but only succeeded in giving away a penalty and allowing their opponents to clear.
Leicester looked to have secured a penalty in front of the posts but the decision was reversed after a push by Craig Newby, and Goode capitalised with three points of his own following an infringement at the scrum.
Staunton then missed a straightforward penalty and Leicester were made to pay for that error when Goode slotted over the winning kick with just over five minutes left after Leicester were penalised at the breakdown.
With Leicester suddenly in desperation mode, Twelvetrees, who had come off the bench, found touch brilliantly with a penalty but then undid his good work as he pushed a chance to win the match wide, after a penalty was awarded from the resulting line-out.