O’Connor happy to see Leicester deliver on game plan against Saracens
The Tigers were 28-20 winners in the Aviva Premiership.
Leicester head coach Matt O’Connor revealed his players delivered their game plan to perfection following their 28-20 win over Saracens at Allianz Park.
The Tigers had never beaten Saracens at Allianz Park but tries from Manu Tuilagi, Greg Bateman and Telusa Veainu had the visitors 21-6 up at the break.
Jonah Holmes sealed the bonus point in the second half after more good work from Tuilagi with Australian international Matt Toomua slotting four conversions.
Former England Under-20s player Max Malins ran in two fine late scores for the hosts as Michele Rizzo was shown a yellow card but Saracens remain four points behind league leaders Exeter Chiefs.
“Around the set piece bits, we reset a few things around Bates’ [Greg Bateman] arrival around what the expectation is for the Tigers pack and that was delivered today,” O’Connor said.
“The ball carry and the stuff we did off the scrum half was probably indicative more of Saracens more than Bates’ to be fair and it was making sure we didn’t leave the ball in the air that long.
“We carried really hard in the close channels and shortened up their defensive line so they didn’t get the opportunity to get line speed and put us under pressure behind the ball.
“I think our respect for Saracens drove the performance and the preparation during the week was exceptional, we know how good they are and how efficient they are.
“That was the base around why we needed to come down here and be as accurate as we could, the boys delivered which was pleasing. I thought we delivered exceptionally well in the first half.”
Tigers are now just four points behind fourth-placed Newcastle Falcons, raising the prospect that they can still make a 14th consecutive appearance in the end of season play-offs.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said his side must improve defensively after a disappointing home performance barring Malins’ late showing.
“We never really recovered from the first half. We defended the whole of the half and didn’t defend
very well, lost a lot of collisions all the way through,” McCall said.
“Give Leicester some credit they were really confrontational in attack and kept on winning the gain line and we were going backwards a lot of the time.
“One thing leads to another and our attack then suffered, we got a bit individual, but at the same time, overall it was a very poor display by us.
“The injuries didn’t help, but there’s no real excuses because we had a good starting XV and the kids who came off the bench did brilliantly, in the last 15-20 minutes. They gave us a nice good bit of energy.”