Saracens upset the Saints at Franklin’s Gardens

Saracens extended their winning streak against Northampton Saints to five straight matches with 15-29 victory at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

Former England star Matt Stevens continued his comeback after a two year ban by scoring a try for Saracens in the victory.

The result moves Saracens to within two points of Premiership leaders Leicester Tigers on the Premiership table.

Saracens kept the pressure on tournament leaders Leicester as they fought back
from behind – and with men in the sin-bin – to inflict a fourth league loss
this season on Saints.

But the home side were left kicking themselves as their good start faded.

It was not the highest scoring first half but it certainly was a good one as
Northampton went in only four points ahead and two men better off.

Both sides were willing to throw the ball around and play some open rugby,
although the Saints had the upper hand territorially.

Saracens came within touching distance of the home line on a couple of occasions
but could not find the killer touch to get over.

Fly-half Stephen Myler, for Northampton, and away full-back Alex Goode exchanged
30-metre penalties in the opening six minutes before Saints turned up the heat.

A lovely move, which was almost intercepted by Sarries as it reached the left
wing, took Northampton to within a metre of the line but lock Dan Vickerman’s
roll over from a ruck was ruled out for a knock-on.

However, Saints did get the opening try when they pounded Sarries in the 22
for scrum-half Ryan Powell to spin the ball out and watch as centre Jon Clarke
gave a deft dummy to Sarries centres Rodd Penney and Brad Barritt to open a
gap and slip through.

Saracens responded by running the ball from halfway, with hooker Schalk Brits
prominent.

But, with ten minutes to go to the break, Sarries were on the back foot again
as prop Carlos Nieto was sin-binned for an illegal act at a ruck, bringing ex-England
international Matt Stevens, in only his third week since returning from a ban
for drugs offences, off the bench.

Sarries defended danger in the left corner well but soon found themselves with
only 13 men on the pitch as fly-half Owen Farrell stupidly took former England
fly-half Shane Geraghty out with a late tackle.

Northampton probably should have gone for the corner with the resultant penalty
but decided that Myler should kick for goal.

He missed and, even with their numerical disadvantage, Sarries started scoring
points. Goode kicked two penalties either side of half-time.

And he then converted a left-corner try, which went to the video referee, from
Barritt after co-centre Penney had charged down a clearance inside the home
22.

It meant Sarries had scored 13 unanswered points while short-handed.

Northampton were at sixes and sevens and needed something to get themselves
back into the match.

Just before the hour, the home side attacked into the Sarries 22 with relentless
thrusts, notably from Paul Diggin, Soane Tonga’uiha and Bruce Reihana, but the
pressure came to nothing.

Then, from nothing, full-back Greig Tonks found some space on the left and
fed Diggin to go over in the corner, although Myler’s touchline conversion went
wide.

But after home number eight Roger Wilson was sent to the sin-bin for a high
tackle, Saracens took the game by the scruff of the neck again.

Stevens went over for a try under the posts, converted by Goode, to put the
visitors eight points ahead.

And, when Goode landed another penalty in the final 10 minutes, that was that.
Barritt landed a 25-metre drop goal in the last minute just to rub salt into
the Northampton wounds.

Final Score Northampton (10) 15 Saracens (6

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