31 mins – Leicester 7-17 Saracens

Outstanding from B Youngs. Absolutely outstanding. Scrum-half breaks and then chips long, before swarming Wray who coughs up the turnover. Leicester can’t make anything of it though as the ball is lost and Saracens clear.

CONVERSION FORD! Leicester 7-17 Saracens

Curled by the England number ten from out on the touchline. Leicester with a foothold.

TRY TAIT! Leicester 5-17 Saracens

Leicester get a penalty after Wyles goes high in the tackle. Lineout taken and it’s almost so good from Leicester, one-two between Toomua and Tait and then a through the legs pass out to May just a bit too far behind him.

Tigers keep attacking, new advantage. Their best spell so far. Toomua wide right to Thompstone, he’s stopped but flicks inside to Tait who scores! Well-worked try that, TMO just checking if Thompstone was in touch before he made the pass… all fine.

Credit: BT SPORT

Credit: BT SPORT

TRY GEORGE! CONVERSION FARRELL! Leicester 0-17 Saracens

Sharp tackle by Toomua is needed to haul down Bosch. George then bursts through on a sharp pass from Farrell to score under the posts! Or has he? TMO checking for crossing… nothing there so the score is given.

Mulipola had leapt out of the line to make the room. Dominant start from the European champions.

Credit: BT SPORT

24 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Ford and Toomua’s quick passing matched by Saracens’ quick rush defence. Tuilagi through a small gap before being hauled down by two tacklers.

Turned over! Clark gets his hands on it as Goode hacks down the line. Tait there to turn and find touch.

22 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Timer up on the yellow card so Leicester have limited the damage. Currently trying to cause some themselves in attack but struggling to get over the gain line.

Saracens’ defence not shifting as Ford kicks the ball away. May back on.

20 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Saracens look so sharp as Tuilagi clatters a runner trying to stop the backs move. Bouncing ball to Wyles slows down momentum but Saracens are five metres out. Overlap for Maitland but now Wyles’ pass goes straight into touch! What a chance. T Youngs down for a bit of treatment.

Goode and Williams get friendlyCredit: PA

18 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Huge shove from Saracens as Mulipola is penalised for angling across the scrum. Touch found outside the Leicester 22.

17 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Cleared by Saracens as Leicester try to build phases in the visitors’ half. Accidental offside though gives the Tigers a scrum.

— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) 24 December 2017

15 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Maul swims towards the touchline and then the ball is knocked on in the transfer back to B Youngs. Saracens will get a scrum camped back on their line.

14 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Maul stopped illegally by Burger (he’s on for Clark) – so another Leicester penalty and another kick to the corner. Promising position this for Leicester who need points.

12 mins – Leicester 0-10 Saracens

Big cheer as Leicester get their first penalty, Wray infringing at the ruck. Ford will nudge this into the corner.

YELLOW CARD MAY! PENALTY TRY! Leicester 0-10 Saracens

So the worst possible outcome for Leicester. Carley rules that May’s knock-on was deliberate a try would have been scored otherwise. Saracens up to double figures. Clark off by the way for HIA.

Credit: BT SPORT

10 mins – Leicester 0-3 Saracens

Isiekwe grabs it as Saracens try to get the maul going. Stopped initially so the forwards get to work tight to the ruck. Kruis and Wray take the ball to five metres out.

Spencer with a half break as Saracens get another penalty, Vunipola thumped back. Now wide and May seems to have deliberately knocked that on, TMO to have a look…

8 mins – Leicester 0-3 Saracens

Big maul from Saracens after the restart as T Youngs is penalised for collapsing the maul. Spencer with a good touchfinder to give them an attacking lineout.

Credit: BT SPORT

PENALTY FARRELL! Leicester 0-3 Saracens

Easy chip shot for the England international as Saracens take the lead.

6 mins – Leicester 0-0 Saracens

Safe lineout from Leicester as B Youngs clears. Wray beats a couple on the return run, Saracens looking sharp. Wyles with a good run into the 22. Goode with a step and the visitors are motoring here. 

Another touch for Wray as Saracens hit ten phases. B Youngs comes over the top of the ruck and gives up a penalty.

4 mins – Leicester 0-0 Saracens

Drilled to touch by Ford over halfway. Both sides trying to get a bit of dominance with the boot which Lozowski achieves with a fine nudge, inside Leicester’s 22.

2 mins – Leicester 0-0 Saracens

Bosch a little slow to get back up but he’ll continue, wind knocked out of him you expect.

Credit: BT SPORT

Scrum resets before Tigers get a good drive going. Wide to Tait who grubbers, fielded by Goode. Ford calls a mark.

Kick-off!

Ford then to start proceedings. Gathered by Wray and ushered to safety by Spencer. Not the best pass from Kalamafoni as Saracens pounce, before Bosch knocks on in the tackle. Good kick chase though by Saracens.

Here come Leicester

Tom Youngs leads out the hosts.

Credit: BT SPORT

Owen Farrell leads out Saracens

Stand-in captain today in the absence of Brad Barritt.

Credit: BT SPORT

Saracens ready to turn the corner

“I think perhaps when we look back in the future that game might be one we look back on and think it was, not a good day, but a day when things changed for the better for us. Now we are hopefully on the upward curve and we can look forward to games and see where we are.”

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Warm-ups

Dan Cole there wearing the ‘C’ shirt.

— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) 24 December 2017

Leicester’s Matt O’Connor

“We’ve had a tough couple of weeks but we have to get four points at home. We need a bit more control. Matt Carley will referee this game far better than we have seen in the last couple of weeks.” 

Christmas shots fired at officials right there.

Credit: BT SPORT

Speaking of Tuilagi

From Manu’s perspective, the most important thing now is that he gets a run of 10 to 12 games. It has a huge impact on the way you play and as a result you relax, you build up your confidence.

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Welcome

Afternoon everybody and hope you’re all enjoying Christmas Eve.

This is the first game to be played at Welford Road on the old 24th of December since 1927! (Hat tip to Nick Mullins for that over at BT. Proper knowledge.)

Quick scene-setter – Saracens are on their worst losing run since 2003, having now dropped seven games in a row in all competitions. There were however certainly signs of life last week in Clermont, when Scott Spedding’s penalty stopped what would have been quite some turnaround.

Leicester on the other hand are out of Europe following the Munster double header but crucially do have Manu Tuilagi available after his citing was dismissed this week.

Teams news as follows: Logovi’i Mulipola returns to the Leicester Tigers starting XV in the only change to the starting team from the side that played against Munster in the Champions Cup. He replaces Kyle Traynor, who moves to the bench.

Harry Wells comes in for Dom Barrow on the bench in the only other change to the matchday 23.

As for Saracens, Michael Rhodes makes his long-awaited return to the bench after injury and Juan Figallo comes into the team in place of Vincent Koch.

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Schalk Burger replaces Calum Clark at openside flanker. Lozowski continues at inside centre in place of Brad Barritt, who remains sidelined following a head injury against Clermont at Allianz Park, and partners Marcelo Bosch.

Ben Spencer starts at scrum-half with skipper Farrell at 10, Nick Isiekwe continues on the blindside after an impressive showing in Clermont while Will Skelton partners George Kruis in the second-row.

Mako Vunipola starts along with Jamie George and Figallo in the front-row as Jackson Wray continues in the Number 8 shirt. Chris Wyles, Alex Goode and Sean Maitland make up the back-line. 

Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Valentino Mapapalangi, 7 Mike Williams, 8 Sione Kalamafoni
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Nick Malouf

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Alex Lozowski, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Juan Figallo, 4 Will Skelton, 5 George Kruis, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 7 Calum Clark, 8 Jackson Wray 
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Nathan Earle