Saracens 49 Leicester 10 match report: Toby Flood leaves and Sarries gates open

Record defeat for Leicester follows confirmation they will lose their England fly-half to France

Allianz Park

The confirmation that their captain and England fly-half Toby Flood will be leaving for a French club next summer was by no means Leicester’s worst news yesterday. The League champions have been busy scouting out replacements for Flood for a while, with Rhys Priestland and Freddie Burns possible candidates. No, the loss here – a record margin of defeat in the Premiership for Leicester – was more immediately hurtful. Six tries to one was a hammering, even if it might be an irrelevance come the end of season shakedown.

Flood, 28, who has 60 caps, is thought to be heading for Toulouse or Toulon, and therefore turning his back on England selection in the year before a home World Cup; no easy decision, but Saracens’ Owen Farrell appears the national coach Stuart Lancaster’s first choice, with Burns and Bath’s George Ford among the back-up. “We put our best offer forward,” said Richard Cockerill, the Leicester director of rugby. “I don’t think it’s a monetary thing, Floody wants to do something different and sees his England chances limited.”

Flood sat out this match – uncomfortably all round, as he had a strained muscle in the backside – while Farrell failed to finish it. The feisty Saracen flew out of defence to make a tackle on Ryan Lamb as the second of two Leicester mauls in quick succession was being held at bay midway through the second half, and his head collided with the supporting Niki Goneva’s hip.

Cockerkill chose against fielding the same team who had fought out the past fortnight’s back to back European wins over Montpellier – exertions greater than Saracens’ in overcoming the Italians of Zebre. The Tigers omitted their England front rowers Dan Cole and Tom Youngs – the latter on the bench; the former all together, in compliance with the elite player agreement that obliges a rest once in the next three matches if Lancaster wants it. Leicester then lost Matt Smith and Terence Hepetema within nine minutes of each other early in the second half to add two more centres to the absent Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Allen and Dan Bowden; this coincided, moreover, with what Cockerill described as the “key” incident of Graham Kitchener’s yellow card in the 39th minute.

Sarries were 13-10 up at the time – a try by Jack Wilson plus Farrell’s conversion and two penalties set against Kitchener’s chargedown try to punish a dawdling Farrell, and Lamb’s penalty and conversion. Kitchener tackled Farrell after the ball had been passed and although there was an element of the “tip” about it, there seemed no danger of injury as the fly-half landed on his back. Indeed, Farrell jumped up immediately to have a moan about it. In Kitchener’s absence, Saracens scored 15 unanswered points: a try by Chris Ashton with its own controversial note; another try on 45 minutes by Billy Vunipola and a conversion and penalty by Farrell. The Ashton score – Saracens’ England wing would run in a second with four minutes to go – came from an apparent forward pass by Chris Wyles that was subjected to umpteen reviews by the television match official before the referee Wayne Barnes okayed it.

“Saracens played very well, we couldn’t cope with their power,” said Cockerill. “But if that [Kitchener’s] was a yellow card the lawmakers are kidding themselves, the game’s soft. Also, we were driving a maul in the second half, Ben Youngs pulls a bloke [Steve Borthwick] who’s 6ft 8in out, throws him on the floor and it’s a penalty. Is that where we’re getting to with the game? The lawmakers are having a laugh, it’s a joke.” Sarries’ Mark McCall thought Kitchener’s yellow card, as a minimum, was justified, arguing the Leicester lock had not brought Farrell to ground safely.

Saracens’s celebrations of a penalty try at a scrum for 42-10 in the 73rd minute riled Leicester; but either side of that Neil de Kock’s vivacious substitute cameo for the home team was a stand-out effort; the scrum-half ran brilliantly from a scrum for Jackson Wray to finish and then gave the final pass for Ashton’s concluding try. It all outstripped Leicester’s 45-17 loss to Wasps in 1998, as well as ending a run of six wins in all competitions for the Tigers, while Saracens stretched their similar streak to eight.

Line-ups:

Saracens: A Goode (B Ransom, 70); C Ashton, T Streather, C Wyles, J Wilson; O Farrell (C Hodgson, 68), R Wigglesworth (N de Kock, 54); R Barrington (M Vunipola, 41), J George, M Stevens (J Johnston, 54), S Borthwick (capt), A Hargreaves (G Kruis, 57), B Vunipola, K Brown, E Joubert (J Wray, 67).

Leicester Tigers: M Tait; N Morris, N Goneva, M Smith (T Hepetema, 41, A Thompstone, 50), M Benjamin; R Lamb, B Youngs (D Mele, 66); B Stankovich (M Ayerza, 46), N Briggs (T Youngs 46), F Balmain (J Schuster 46), E Slater, G Kitchener (S de Chaves, 73), J Gibson, P Matera (T Waldrom, 54), J Crane (capt).

Referee: W Barnes (London).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'