The Tigers lost their first four games of the campaign but have battled back with six wins from their last seven and picked up a much-needed four points at Welford Road.
Tries from Dan Kelly and Matt Rogerson flanked Tom Parton’s score for Saracens and saw The Tigers take a slender 12-10 lead in at the break.
In a bruising and, at times, chaotic second half, it was the hosts who came out on top. After Maro Itoje was sent to the sin-bin, Harry Simmons made Leicester’s numerical advantage count.
At the end of a prolonged period of pressure, Handre Pollard’s looped pass over the top put the winger in for the simplest of finishes in the corner as The Tigers moved nine points clear with a quarter of the game remaining.
“We spoke about the month ahead of us that started back at Exeter, obviously a disappointing day that day,” McKellar told TNT Sports. “I got a response last week against Bath and, yeah, season-defining and an important four points in the end.”
Kelly, who opened the scoring after intercepting an Owen Farrell pass, agreed with McKellar’s assessment in regard to the magnitude of the result.
Although they sit seventh, the win saw Leicester move on to 29 points, just three shy of Sale Sharks in fourth as the battle to make the semi-finals heats up.
“It’s a brutal, brutal league,” Kelly said. “You can’t go anywhere and expect five points or even a win. You’ve got to turn up every week and that’s why I love the Premiership.
“That’s why I love playing it. We’re very lucky as English players get to play it every week.”
McCall: ‘A lot to be optimistic about’
Saracens have now lost three of their last four Premiership fixtures to drop out of the top four into sixth.
He admitted the loss was “frustrating” but was pleased by aspects of the performance ahead of the European break, with Sarries set to resume their Investec Champions cup campaign against Bordeaux Begles next week.
“When you lose it’s always frustrating,” McCall said. “There’s a lot of things to quite like today and some obvious things for us to improve on. The core things, the scrum again, probably the maul as well, when you get some chances down there you’ve got to be able to take them.
“I liked a lot of what we did defensively. I liked a lot of what we did attack-wise, didn’t quite get what we could have got out of those things, but I think there’s quite a lot to be optimistic about.”
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