Premiership: Saracens 32-17 Leicester: World Cup stars shine in Sarries' victory

Gallagher Premiership

Saracens: (14) 32

Tries: Itoje, Christie, B Vunipola, George Pens: Farrell 2 Cons: Farrell 3

Leicester: (3) 17

Tries: Whiteley, Shillcock Pens: Shillcock Cons: Atkinson, Shillcock

Reigning champions Saracens overcame Leicester Tigers with the help of tries from three returning World Cup stars.

England forwards Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and Jamie George were among their scorers, having helped the national team to third place in France.

Itoje and Andy Christie went over as Sarries led by 11 points at the break.

Vunipola and George's tries were matched by Tom Whiteley and Jamie Shillcock, but Owen Farrell contributed 12 points with the boot in a bonus-point victory.

Itoje, Vunipola, George and captain Farrell were joined in the Saracens starting XV with England team-mates Ben Earl and Elliot Daly - but Leicester opted to give Ollie Chessum, Dan Cole, George Martin, Freddie Steward and Ben Youngs an extended break following their World Cup exertions.

The champions of the past two seasons - Leicester lifted the trophy in the 2021-22 season - went into the game eighth and ninth in the table, having won only one of their first three matches.

But after Shillcock's penalty kick gave Leicester an early lead, Saracens took charge as surges by Earl and Vunipola were held up before Itoje spun his marker and stretched beyond the line to touch down.

Earl was again prominent in the move that led to Scotland back-row Christie adding the second try as Sarries went into the interval 14-3 in front.

Vunipola forced his way over for the third and when George scored following an irresistible shove by the Sarries maul, it looked like the Tigers were in for an uncomfortable final 25 minutes.

Dan McKellar sent on Tonga international centre Solomone Kata for his Tigers debut, but it was their half-back pairing who ate into the home side's lead as Whiteley and Shillcock went in.

Farrell, though, had the final word with a penalty kick as Saracens moved up a place to seventh ahead of next weekend's trip to Newcastle, with Leicester taking on Harlequins at Welford Road.

Tigers head coach Dan McKellar told BBC Radio Leicester:

"We showed a lot of fight, but didn't execute - fight and bravery, you tip your hat to that, but the reality is we turned over the ball too easily, a few basic skill errors, and the line-out struggled to function.

"For the first 15 minutes we showed some really good passages in attack but then kicked the ball away when we probably shouldn't have and it was frustrating because, playing against quality opposition on their home turf, if we'd executed better we'd have put ourselves in a position to win that game.

"My approach was always to give the boys a week off after the World Cup, let them connect with family.

"It's a huge emotional and physical toll to go through a World Cup, three or four months in camp - Mark [McCall] took a different approach, there's no right or wrong. We knew it was going to be a big challenge against a fully loaded Saracens side."

Saracens: Goode; Maitland, Lozowski, Tompkins, Daly; Farrell (capt), Davies; M Vunipola, George, Riccioni, Itoje, Iswiekwe, Christie, Earl, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Dan, Mawi, Clarey, Hunter-Hill, Tizard, Willis, Van Zyl, Parton.

Leicester: Brown; Bassett, Porter, Kelly, Hassell-Collins; Shillcock, Whiteley; Cronin, Clare, Hurd, Henderson, Carter, Liebenberg (capt), Reffell, Cracknell.

Replacements: Dolly, Van Wyk, Richardson, Wells, Rogerson, Powell, Atkinson, Kata.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.