MATCH REPORT | Saracens Men 38-15 Northampton Saints
Saracens Men booked their place in the Gallagher Premiership Final after a scintillating display saw them beat Northampton Saints 38-15 at StoneX Stadium.
The Men in Black held the lead from start to finish in their best performance of the season so far, scoring five tries in the process meaning they can look forward to the final against Sale Sharks or Leicester Tigers on Saturday 27th May.
Sarries started like a house on fire and almost scored one of the tries of the season with just four minutes gone. A turnover on their own line saw them play with borderline absurd intent, and Sean Maitland showed Courtney Lawes a clean pair of heels to get outside the 22 before passing inside to Max Malins. The England winger drew in his man and it looked like Alex Lozowski was in but the defence scrambled back and intercepted Ivan Van Zyl’s pass which would have made it the perfect start.
The perfect start followed just two minutes later though as the opening try came from Maitland. Alex Goode found himself in space and his inch-perfect kick in behind bounced up perfectly for the Scotland winger who could step the final man and bring the North Stand alive. Owen Farrell’s conversion made it 7-0 with six minutes played.
Fin Smith got the Saints on the board with a penalty, but it was one way traffic in the first half and another Maitland try was en route with a quarter of the match gone.
A lineout deep in the Northampton 22 meant Sarries had possession, and Farrell’s incredible grubber with his left foot took out three defenders and Maitland could dive on it in the left corner to dot it down. Farrell then converted from the touchline as the lead grew to 14-3.
It grew once again on the 30 minute mark with an individual piece of genius from Ivan Van Zyl. Sarries got a penalty just outside the 22 and before anyone had even blinked he took it quickly and was under the posts in sensational style. The extras from Farrell meant the hosts had real control of the game as we approached the break.
Saints then looked for a way back in to the match and had possession in the 22, but a monstrous hit from Nick Isiekwe and then a piece of breakdown brilliance from Marco Riccioni meant Sarries had the ball back.
Try number four almost followed just before half time when Farrell broke the line and found Maitland on the wing once again, but as Goode gathered his inside pass the ball went to ground, but the crowd were being treated to some truly incredible attacking rugby.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, and a brilliant turnover from Nick Tompkins gave Farrell an easy penalty attempt, which he comfortably slotted to make it 24-3 five minutes after the break.
An immense defensive set then followed as Saints went through 15 phases in the 22 but couldn’t breach the brick wall in front of them as the likelihood of a trip to Twickenham grew ever closer.
The full bag of tricks was now coming out, an enormous spiral bomb from Farrell hung in the air for what seemed like an age and caused all sorts of bother for the defence as the crowd once again got to their feet.
Just when Northampton needed a try they got exactly that as we entered the final quarter, the sniping Alex Mitchell stepped past the final man from close range to dart over, and Smith’s conversion cut the lead to 14 points.
Max Malins then almost extended the advantage even further as him and Nick Tompkins combined in scoring range but in the process of dotting down the ball fumbled out of their grasp.
Saints then got another as the tension inside StoneX began to grow. With 15 minutes remaining an overlap on the right wing allowed James Ramm to race down the right and dive over, and despite the conversion sailing wide the lead was now cut to nine points.
Malins was then inches away from gathering Farrell’s crossfield kick but in a strong contest in the air, Fraser Dingwall came out on top and the Saints survived.
Tommy Freeman charged downtime left wing with 10 minutes left as Saints looked to be getting to within one score, but some much needed defence from Malins and Van Zyl earned a crucial turnover.
Sarries then got a penalty try with 10 minutes to go to all but put the game to bed. A maul was powering over and as Jamie George went to put the ball down, Tom James came in from the side and gave the referee Karl Dickson no option but to go under the sticks and give the Northampton man a yellow card.
Malins then finally got the try he deserved in the closing stages after a sweeping move from the base of a scrum. Elliot Daly was put through a hole and he drew in the final man and released Malins who marked his final appearance at StoneX with a stunning score. Farrell’s brilliant conversion made it 38-15 with just three minutes left.
That proved to be the knockout blow as the North Londoners advanced to the final for the second year in a row to spark jubilant scenes at StoneX.
Ticket information for the final will be announced very shortly, stay tuned to our social media channels for updates!