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Premiership: Saracens 26-20 Leicester Tigers

Saracens (17) 26
Tries: Brits, Wiggleworth Cons: Hougaard 2 Pens: Hougaard 3 Drop-goals: Hougaard
Leicester (7) 20
Tries: Amorosino Cons: Twelvetrees 2 Pens: Twelvetrees 2

Saracens fly-half Derick Hougaard
The boot of Saracens fly-half Hougaard (left) guided the hosts to victory

Fly-half Derick Hougaard kicked 16 points to help Saracens edge past Premiership holders Leicester.

Schalk Brits and Richard Wigglesworth gave Sarries a comfortable 17-7 lead at half-time, with Billy Twelvetrees converting a penalty try for Leicester.

Adding to his first-half conversions, Hougaard kicked three penalties and a drop goal to extend their advantage.

Twelvetrees' three kicks and Lucas Amorosino's try narrowed the gap as Tigers claimed a losing bonus point.

Saracens were looking for revenge after losing the Premiership title to Leicester in the dying minutes of the play-off final in May.

And they nearly threw it away again, scorning a simple three points when leading 26-10, but they hung on to see off the champions.

Saracens started brightly but failed to convert their first real chances. David Strettle touched down on the right only for referee Romain Poite to signal a forward pass during the build-up and ex-Tiger Hougaard was narrowly off target with a 50-yard drop-goal.

The first points were scored after 22 minutes when Chris Wyles escaped an attempted tackle by Matt Smith and his pass found prolific hooker Brits, who duly touched down for his third try in as many games, leaving Hougaard with a simple conversion.

Leicester, who made significant changes to their side because of injury and enforced resting of England Elite Player Squad members, were already showing signs of panic under pressure, gifting Hougaard another long-range shot at goal from 55 yards which sailed between the posts.

But the Tigers camped in the Saracens 22 for the first time in the game, earning successive penalties, both chosen as scrums. After some twisting and turning the third scrum also imploded and Deon Carstens was sin-binned for his involvement.

When a fifth scrum was turned, Jacques Burger was adjudged to have dived on the ball in an offside position and Leicester were awarded a penalty try, converted by Twelvetrees.

But Sarries hit back when Brits ran at the visiting defence and sent Wigglesworth over with an inside pass, Hougaard converting again.

Twelvetrees cut the deficit two minutes after the restart but Hougaard restored the 10-point margin three minutes after that, and increased it with another precise kick and a soaring drop-goal.

Leicester fly-half Twelvetrees kicked a penalty to narrow the gap shortly after Smith was yellow carded, but within two minutes, the visitors also lost Ed Slater to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

However, Leicester fought back to grab an unexpected try from full-back Amorosino, who kicked ahead and beat everyone in the race to touch down, and Twelvetrees converted to set up a nervous finish.

The normally reliable Hougaard missed two late penalties but Saracens held on.

Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter said:
"I'm a bit deflated to be honest because we should have had them and finished the job much earlier.

"Leicester were conceding penalties because we had the ball for sustained periods but we butchered a couple of sitters.

"We must learn to put teams away when we have outplayed them as much as we outplayed Leicester."

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said:
"I'm very pleased at how we reacted, the players showed great spirit, especially when we had guys in the sin-bin.

"It was difficult out there because Saracens got it right when we were a man short and played to the corners - but our boys never gave up.

"We have a number of players missing and we've played Northampton, Wasps and Saracens - so when everyone comes back I'm convinced we will get better."

Saracens: Wyles; Strettle, Ratuvou, Mordt, Tagicakibau; Hougaard, Wigglesworth; Carstens, Brits, Du Plessis, Borthwick, Vyvyan, K. Brown, Burger, Joubert.

Replacements: Powell for Strettle (41), Barritt for Mordt (61), George for Brits (66), Nieto for Du Plessis (45), Botha for Vyvyan (57), Saull for K. Brown (57).

Not Used: Parr, de Kock.

Sin Bin: Carstens (35).

Leicester: Gonzalez Amorosino; Hamilton, Hipkiss, Smith, Agulla; Twelvetrees, Grindal; Stankovich, Hawkins, Cole, Slater, Skivington, Croft, Newby, Pienaar.

Replacements: Robinson for Smith (66), Castrogiovanni for Cole (57), Mafi for Newby (70), Woods for Pienaar (51).

Not Used: Duffey, White, Harrison, Ford.

Sin Bin: Agulla (56), Slater (65).

Att: 7,125

Ref: Romain Poite (France).

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see also
Rugby union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Guscott's predictions
03 Oct 10 |  English
Leicester hit by Staunton injury
30 Sep 10 |  Leicester
Sarries sorry for Borthwick snub
28 Sep 10 |  Saracens
Saracens 24-17 Northampton
26 Sep 10 |  English
Leicester 48-6 Leeds
25 Sep 10 |  English

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