England star Owen Farrell scored all 16 points as Saracens won 16-12 at Leicester in the English Premiership on Sunday to tighten their grip on second place.
The fly-half kicked 11 points and scored the only try of the afternoon as Saracens came from 9-6 down to win at Welford Road.
Leicester fly-half Owen Williams kicked all of the hosts’ points.
“We are chuffed to bits to come here and win where they have not lost this season,” said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.
“Not everything in our game was perfect — far from it. But what was tremendous was the fight we had and the effort we showed all the way through the game.
“Our defensive effort was extraordinary. We had to win without a platform because our scrum today was poor. To get a result without a scrum is tough.”
Defending champions Saracens sit a point below leaders Wasps, who won 34-30 at Newcastle on Friday.
Saracens were missing injured England lock George Kruis, but they recalled wing Chris Ashton after he made a try-scoring return from suspension as a replacement against Newcastle.
Leicester welcomed back their England trident of Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole, while Freddie Burns started in the unfamiliar position of full-back.
The first half was a cagey affair dominated by the boot that finished 6-6.
There was bad news for Leicester, and watching England head coach Eddie Jones, when centre Manu Tuilagi was forced off with a leg injury after just eight minutes.
Tuilagi, recalled to the England training squad after an injury lay-off, had to hobble off after being hurt in a double tackle, with Tom Brady taking his place.
“He got a bang on the outside of his right knee and we don’t know the extent of the injury yet,” said Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
“His groin is feeling great so that’s one good thing. There’s always a positive.
“It’s disappointing because he is important to us. Normally it’s 24 hours, so we will see how it has settled down in the morning to see if there’s any swelling.
“It might just be a bang and a bit of swelling, it might be a couple of weeks. I’m just guessing.”
– Harlequins woe –
Williams made it 9-6 eight minutes into the second half with a 46-metre penalty that bounced over via the crossbar.
The fates appeared to be conspiring against Saracens when Ashton went off following a clash of heads before Farrell missed a straightforward penalty from close range.
But Williams also squandered a penalty and in the 55th minute Farrell gave Saracens a 13-9 lead with a try and a conversion after a poor pass left Williams exposed.
Brady might have restored Leicester’s advantage after the hosts turned the ball over, but he did not have the pace to get to the whitewash.
Farrell and Williams traded penalties and Saracens held on to win.
Northampton came from behind to claim a much-needed 13-12 win away to Gloucester courtesy of a late penalty try plus two penalties and a conversion by fly-half Stephen Myler.
Fly-half Billy Burns landed four penalties for Gloucester.
Harlequins’ poor away form continued in a 24-17 defeat at struggling Worcester — their 12th loss in 13 away games.
Compounding a miserable afternoon, Quins lost Chris Robshaw, Jamie Roberts, Jack Clifford and George Merrick to injury and saw Joe Marler yellow-carded.
“Chris should have come off when he had the bang, but bravery kept him out there as we were in a mess,” said Quins boss John Kingston.
“Our medics will report to England. They are due down there at noon tomorrow, so he’ll probably go regardless.
“Jack has concussion, George failed a head injury assessment, so they are both doubtful for next week, while Jamie has a cut leg and aggravated something.”
In the day’s remaining game, bottom club Bristol claimed a narrow 24-23 win at third-bottom Sale.
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