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Pollard debuts for Leicester but England discards see rampant Saracens home

By PA
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England discards Elliot Daly and Ben Earl inspired Saracens to a 51-18 rout of Leicester to avenge last season’s Gallagher Premiership final defeat.

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Daly and Earl were at the heart of their side’s demolition job at StoneX Stadium, both crossing five days after being omitted from Eddie Jones’ first training squad of the autumn.

A strong supporting cast headed by Max Malins, another player jettisoned by Jones, helped them run rings round the champions as the new emphasis on attack introduced for this season produced seven tries

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Willing to strike from all quarters of the pitch, Saracens played at a pace that left Leicester chasing shadows, using clever offloads and smart lines to devastating effect, especially in an irresistible first half.

To make matters worst for Tigers, Handre Pollard’s debut as an interval replacement lasted only 27 minutes because of injury and it was also an afternoon to forget for Anthony Watson, who was representing his new club for the first time.

Saracens did not escape without a cost, however, as England hooker Jamie George was forced off at half-time because of an ankle injury.

After a pleasing season opener against Harlequins and rollercoaster victory over Gloucester, it was seeing Leicester in the opposite corner that brought out the best in Mark McCall’s men.

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Their eagerness to attack was evident in the 15th minute when they raced into the lead with an Alex Lozowski try that began in their own 22.

Farrell launched the move but it was the ability of Daly and Alex Lewington to unpick the visiting defence, plus an injection of pace from Ivan van Zyl, that made the score possible.

A kind bounce off Freddie Burns’ speculative chip allowed prop James Cronin to reply soon after but Saracens stormed back in front with another clinical try created by the influential Daly and finished by Earl.

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Even after a series of penalties offered promising field position, Leicester were powerless to keep out on another high tempo attacked that ended with Malins running in his fourth try in two appearances.

Saracens were unstoppable as Billy Vunipola sent Earl into a gap but the key moment was George running a clever line at pace before finding Malins in support.

Only indiscipline was letting the hosts down and with 35 minutes gone they were losing the penalty count 9-2, but when they could breach the whitewash at will it became irrelevant.

Just before half-time they struck again as Farrell switched play to Daly and Nick Tompkins, who combined skilfully to send Van Zyl over.

Leicester brought Pollard on for the second-half, shifting Burns to full-back and nudging Freddie Steward to the left wing and with the changes came signs of a fightback.

Pressure was building on the home line and the Tigers pulled the trigger by working the ball wide to Steward who had the strength to ride two tackles and touch down.

Leicester were in full flow as they renewed the attack but their accuracy deserted them at key moments and on their next assault, Saracens ran in their fifth try courtesy of sharp handling a strong finish by Daly.

There was no let up as the floodgates opened with Theo McFarland and Sean Maitland adding late tries.

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