Rugby Union: Lacroix's class act inspires Saracens

Saracens 36 Leicester 20
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The Independent Online
SARACENS PUT a disastrous start behind them, conjured up a thunderous finish and in between compiled a solid performance to leapfrog Leicester and Bath among others and take over third place in the Allied Dunbar Premiership.

Their fly-half, Thierry Lacroix, stole the individual honours with a haul of 26 points, including one of his side's three tries. Saracens' owner, Nigel Wray, justified the idea of regular Sunday evening kick-offs saying it gives people "time to digest Sunday lunch and time after the game to get the kids in bed for Monday morning school."

That is patently not true for last night's visitors, Leicester, though. Although Wray may change his mind if a late start means early blushes for Saracens, as happened when Leicester opened the scoring after 39 seconds. The Scrum-half, Nick Walshe, fumbled a Tony Diprose pass after a Saracens scrum when the Leicester kick-off failed to go 10 metres. Tim Stimpson swooped and touched down under the posts, giving himself a simple conversion.

After a flurry of penalties from both sides, and a Will Greenwood try for the Tigers, Saracens struck a psychological blow when they were awarded a penalty try after a series of spine-bending scrums on the Leicester line. When Derek Jelley's head popped up for the umpteenth time, the referee, Ed Morrison, ended Saracens' frustration and Lacroix's conversion edged them ahead for the first time in the match.

Within 11 minutes of the second half, Lacroix had given Saracens a substantial lead, first with another penalty then with a well-taken try.

Austin Healey knocked some of the stuffing out of Saracens' 11-point cushion when he rounded off a great threequarter move, but Stimpson's boot was again off the mark, and although Lacroix missed a kick, he soon landed another penalty to restore order.

And right at the death, when the tiring Tigers' concentration was slipping, Richard Hill crashed through Jamie Hamilton then dummied Stimpson and left the rest of the luckless Leicester defence floundering in his wake as he ran like a threequarter to score under the posts and give Lacroix his third conversion.

Saracens: Tries Penalty Try, Lacroix, Hill; Conversions Lacroix 3; Penalties Lacroix 5. Leicester: Tries Stimpson, Greenwood, Healey; Conversion Stimpson; Penalty Stimpson.

Saracens: M Mapletoft; R Constable (D O'Mahony, 75), J Thomson (B Johnstone, 79), K Sorrell, R Thirlby; T Lacroix, N Walshe; D Flatman, G Chuter, J White, S Murray, D Grewcock, R Hill, T Diprose (B Cole, 35), F Pienaar (capt).

Leicester: T Stimpson; A Healey, W Greenwood, L Lloyd (C Joiner, 60), D Lougheed (G Murphy, 75); P Howard, J Hamilton; D Jelley (P Freshwater, 72), D West, G Rowntree, W Johnson, B Kay, P Gustard, M Corry, N Back (capt).

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).