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Two penalties from substitute Charlie Hodgson see Saracens draw 9-9 with Leicester Tigers at Wembley
Two penalties from Saracens substitute Charlie Hodgson rescued a 9-9 draw against Leicester Tigers in a match that failed to live up to the quality of the two teams involved.
The Men in Black made five changes to the side that beat Sale with Carlos Nieto, Jackson Wray, Neil de Kock , Owen Farrell and James Short all coming into the starting line-up for Saracens' sixth premiership match at Wembley.
The home side started slowly and two early penalties from Toby Flood gave the Tigers an early 6-0 lead.
Saracens’ Owen Farrell missed an opportunity five minutes later when he lined up for a penalty just outside the 22 but the fly-half skewed wide.
Much of the opening exchanges were interrupted by injury or infringement but just after the quarter hour mark Farrell had another chance from the tee, this time wider and further out, but once again the posts eluded him.
It was Leicester who looked the more threatening, particularly through the centre, and when Vereniki Goneva broke through in the 27th minute Saracens looked exposed but the Tigers number 11 couldn’t find enough support.
The visitors made their pressure count though on the half hour when a Saracens knock-on gifted Leicester another penalty which Flood duly converted.
And while Flood was having a field day, notching three out of three penalties, his opposite number was struggling.
Farrell missed his third penalty of the match in the 32nd minute before finally, and much to the relief of the Wembley crowd, dispatching one through the posts minutes later to make it 3-9.
The Men in Black enjoyed their best spell of the game just before half-time and a Leicester offside presented Farrell with the chance to reduce the deficit further but the chance went begging.
Saracens continued their momentum after the break and two pin-point penalties from Hodgson, who had replaced Farrell in the 50th minute, brought the hosts back on level terms.
With fifteen minutes left to play it was Flood’s turn to miss the target as his penalty from distance drifted wide.
A rare moment of drama came with three minutes to play. A neat Hodgson kick brought Saracens a line out five metres out and having secured the ball in the scrum Hodgson dropped into the pocket for the winning drop-goal but failed to find the target.
Both sides were probably happy to take a draw in a match of little quality and where genuine try-scoring chances were few and far between.
Saracens’ next match is away to Exeter Chiefs next Saturday.
Saracens: Alex Goode , Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Brad Barritt , James Short, Owen Farrell, Neil De Kock, Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Carlos Nieto, Steve Borthwick ©, Mouritz Botha, Kelly Brown, Jackson Wray, Ernst Joubert
Subs: John Smit, Rhys Gill, Petrus Du Plessis, Alistair Hargreaves, Will Fraser, Richard Wigglesworth, Charlie Hodgson, Chris Wyles
Leicester Tigers: Geordan Murphy ©, Scott Hamilton, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Anthony Allen, Vereniki Goneva, Toby Flood, Sam Harrison, Logovi’I Mulipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Graham Kitchener, Geoff Parling, Steve Mafi, Julian Salvi, Thomas Waldrom
Subs: George Chuter, Boris Stankovich, Martin Castrogiovanni, Rob Andrew, Jordan Crane, Patrick Phibbs, George Ford, Matt Smith