Premiership: Saracens beat Leicester Tigers 24-10 as Ben Earl crosses twice

Ben Earl ran in the second of Saracens' tries midway through the second half against Leicester at Welford Road
Ben Earl ran in the second of Saracens' tries midway through the second half against Leicester at Welford Road
Gallagher Premiership
Leicester (3) 10
Try: Thompstone Con: Reid Pen: Reid
Saracens (10) 24
Tries: Earl 2, Tompkins Cons: Lozowski 2, Vunipola Pen: Lozowski

Saracens made light of all their international absentees as they clung on to claim their first Premiership win of the season against Leicester Tigers.

Centre Nick Tompkins' first-half try helped Sarries open up a 10-3 interval lead at Welford Road.

Flanker Ben Earl then crossed too, before Leicester wing Adam Thompstone latched onto Tomkins' pass for an interception try under the posts.

But Earl's second try on 76 minutes sealed victory for the champions.

Manu Vunipola kicked that, to add to Alex Lozowski's two earlier conversions and a penalty, while Noel Reid landed a first-half penalty and a conversion for Leicester.

Coupled with a disallowed score of their own in the last play of the game, Sarries' third try denied Leicester a losing bonus point to leave the Tigers still pointless after being beaten at Worcester Warriors in last weekend's season opener.

Mark McCall's Saracens, who still have 12 players on World Cup duty, bounced back well from losing at home to Northampton Saints eight days ago.

Scotland wing Sean Maitland and centre Duncan Taylor - as a replacement - returned to club action following the World Cup, but 11 other Sarries players remain in Japan - seven of whom, including captain Owen Farrell, were in England's 23-man squad for Saturday's semi-final win over New Zealand.

They have now been joined by scrum-half Ben Spencer, whose late call-up as an injury replacement led to an outing for the impressive Richard Wigglesworth, while Alex Goode is out for up to four months with a chest injury, with Manu Vunipola coming in at fly-half.

The inclusion of 36-year-old Wigglesworth alongside 19-year-old Vunipola broke the record for greatest difference in age between starting half-backs in Premiership history, at 16 years and 330 days, beating the previous mark set two decades ago by Hall Charlton and Rob Andrew.

Tigers, who lost lock Will Spencer with a shoulder injury after just eight minutes and then also the returning Kyle Eastmond (calf) inside the first half hour, still have five players out on duty in the Far East in the victorious England squad.

After going 17-3 down following Earl's first try, the Tigers brought on number eight Sione Kalamafoni, back from World Cup duties with Tonga.

And, with still 20 minutes left, Thompstone gave his side hope when he intercepted Tompkins' telegraphed pass before running 75 metres to score.

But Earl closed the door four minutes from time when he seized on a loose ball to score his second after Maitland and George Worth had contested Vunipola's kick.

Leicester host Gloucester next Saturday, while Saracens are also at home, to promoted London Irish.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy told BBC Radio Leicester:

"We still haven't had a full 80-minute performance this season. However, it was more pleasing than last week at Worcester when we were paralysed at the fear of playing in the Premiership.

"Saracens deserved to win but I'm disappointed we didn't get a bonus point, as we stuck at it. This week we had a good start and played a bit more, but once again we missed touches and tackles.

"The injuries to Kyle Eastmond and Will Spencer were unfortunate as we had to roll our bench early in the game.

"It doesn't get any easier as Gloucester were hugely impressive in wet weather conditions. They have a strong pack and are nigh-on full strength, so it will be a very big task."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:

"Ben Earl was exceptional. We know he can have moments of wonder. Very few players are capable of scoring that first try in the way he did, but I was particularly pleased with his defensive effort.

"We showed great control as much of the match was played at their end of the pitch apart from the opening minutes. And we responded well to their interception try.

"Last week our inexperienced team failed to close out the match, but we learnt from that. The half-backs showed good game management.

"We could have switched Alex Lozowski to fly-half but we wanted to give Manu a chance in that position as it's vital to expose young players if the opportunity arises."

Leicester Tigers: Worth; Thompstone, Viljoen, Eastmond, Holmes; Reid, White; Bateman, Kerr, Heyes, Spencer, Green (capt), Liebenberg, Reffell, Thompson.

Replacements: Wells for Spencer (8), Hardwick for Eastmond (26), Harrison for White (52), Kalamafoni for Reffell (52), Leatigaga for Heyes (57), Olowofela for Thompstone (67), Gigena for Bateman (67), Clare for Kerr (67).

Saracens: Gallagher; Maitland, Lozowski, Tompkins, Lewington; Vunipola, Wigglesworth; Barrington, Woolstencroft, Lamositele, Skelton, Isiekwe, Clark, Earl, Wray (capt).

Replacements: Adams-Hale for Barrington (53), Taylor for Lozowski (57), Kpoku for Skelton (64), Wainwright for Lamositele (70), Segun for Lewington (78), Whiteley for Wigglesworth (78), Gray for Woolstencroft (78), Hunter-Hill for Clark (78).

Attendance: 18,533.

Referee: Tom Foley (RFU).

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