MATCH REPORT | Northampton Saints 58-34 Saracens Men
A clinical Northampton Saints side put Saracens to the sword as the Men in Black were beaten 58-34 in an entertaining Premiership Rugby Cup tie at Franklin’s Gardens.
There were 15 tries scored all-together, including four for Samson Adejimi on a night that he will remember fondly for years to come.
Saints started quickly and opened the scoring with just three minutes on the clock. A smart chip over the top of the defence bounced right by the try-line, and fortunately for the hosts bounced up perfectly for Joel Matavesi who was able to dive over the ball in the corner.
That lead grew just four minutes later as Sarries were punished on the counter and a rampant start from the Saints punished them. Manu Vunipola’s pass in the midfield wasn’t gathered and then in the blink of an eye they went down the other end of the pitch, with Frankie Sleightholme finishing the move in style.
Sarries then opened their account with 13 minutes played to get right back in the match. Some neat hands in the back-line saw the ball switch from left to right, and it ended up in the hands of Francis Moore who was able to dance over and past the final defender.
The hosts responded quickly though, as Courtnall Skosan could stroll over the line from close range as another sweeping Saints attack ended in them extending their advantage to 17-7.
The visitors then created a great chance as Brandon Jackson and Tobias Elliott combined brilliantly in the midfield, and just as the full-back stepped back inside with the line at his mercy, a superb covering tackle stopped him in his tracks.
Northampton then secured their bonus point just after the 20 minute mark just seconds after Ollie Stonham was sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball. The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner, and then Henry Pollock bundled over from the maul as the lead grew to 24-7.
Sarries refused to lie down though, and responded just two minutes later when Samson Adejimi crashed over in the corner from a powerful maul to cut the deficit to 12 as we approached half time.
In the final play of the half Sleightholme got his second of the match from another Saints counter just as the Londoners were growing in confidence, but that late score meant the hosts went down the tunnel with a 29-12 lead.
Saints started the second half in same way they started the first, with a try just three minutes after the restart. Grayson’s smart cross-field kick found Skosan who was never going to be stopped, using his searing pace to race clear from 20 metres out.
Once again though as had happened earlier in the match Sarries hit straight back, with the lively Adejmi smashing his way to the line for his second of the evening. Vunipola’s conversion made it 36-19 with 30 minutes to play.
Skosan completed his hat-trick with another close-range finish as Saints threatened to pull away, but then Adejimi also got his third on a memorable evening for the hooker to keep the visitors in range of their opponents.
Moore then threatened to cross again as some excellent offloading put him in space, and he pinned his ears back with the line in range but a brilliant covering tackle from Skosan stopped the attack.
Adejimi then got his fourth on a night he’ll never forget, with another maul allowing him to dive over in the corner to give the game very much alive, with the deficit now 12 points with 15 minutes remaining.
James Grayson then kicked a penalty from in front of the posts as they edged towards victory, and Pollock’s second try with just 10 minutes left put the result beyond doubt as they brought up their half century.
Aaron Hinkley put more gloss on the scoreboard for Northampton with their ninth and final try of the evening, but Oscar Wilson had the final say by scoring just two minutes after coming off the bench to put a smile on the faces of the visiting supporters.