Tigers fired up for Sarries test
Leicester will not struggle for motivation when they tackle Premiership champions Saracens in Saturday's play-off showdown at Welford Road.
While Tigers have enjoyed an imperious march into the title semi-finals for an eighth successive season, losing just one of their last 16 league games, one result still hurts.
Last September, with the World Cup under way in New Zealand and several Premiership clubs weakened as a result, Saracens achieved the unthinkable and scored 50 points on Leicester soil.
It was a crushing defeat for the Tigers, and although they avenged that loss by beating Saracens away from home five months later, few Leicester supporters have forgotten Sarries' six-try drubbing.
"I was in New Zealand at the time and was checking the results on the internet," Leicester skipper Geordan Murphy said. "I remember being surprised that Sarries had put that many points on us.
"They were pretty pleased with it, so we have to use that as motivation to go out and have a good game on Saturday. I am sure all of the boys will remember that.
"We were missing 12 guys at the World Cup, but it showed what sort of a side Saracens are. If we don't perform, we will be in trouble.
"It's going to be a mouthwatering game. They played very well the last time they were here, and they have just had a big win against Exeter, putting 40 points on them.
"Their confidence will be high and they will want to come here and play some good rugby."
When it comes to Premiership play-offs, though, Leicester are the masters, winning every tie they have contested and reaching seven Twickenham finals as a result.
And this season, their feat is worthy of special mention given that they were one place off the Premiership basement in October.
But Tigers ended the 22-game regular league season only a point behind leaders Harlequins, suggesting they have all the momentum required to push for a 10th league title.
"That is a fantastic achievement," added Murphy, reflecting on Leicester's Premiership revival this term.
"But it will count for little if we don't win this weekend.
"We sat down as a group after the World Cup and set ourselves a goal of making the play-offs. We have done that, and now we have to focus on what we need to do from here.
"Saracens are on form and it will be tough, but history has shown that it is an advantage to play at home. We would prefer to be playing at Welford Road than away somewhere."
Saracens narrowly beat the Tigers in last season's Premiership final, and they have also won on three successive Welford Road visits, which represents the best sequence by any away team at Leicester since Harlequins completed five victories 34 years ago.
"It will be tough, and close," Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill said. "They generally are, apart from when we played at the start of the season.
"They have got a good record here. In fact, I can't remember the last time they lost. We will have to be right on it."
Saracens will arrive in the Midlands with England fly-half Owen Farrell at outside centre and Charlie Hodgson wearing the number 10 shirt, but back-row forward Justin Melck misses out.
Melck suffered a serious knee ligament injury late in the Exeter game last Saturday and underwent surgery yesterday. He is expected to be sidelined for nine months.
Assessing the Tigers test, Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said: "It's a massive match.
"We've had a very good week of preparation, but we know it is going to be a very tough game and we will have to be at our best to get the result we want.
"Leicester have a phenomenal semi-final record, but we have had some excellent performances in recent weeks with wins against London Irish, Newcastle and Exeter, so we are really looking forward to the match."