Northampton Saints finished round eight on top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and head coach Jim Mallinder felt his team’s refusal to let Saracens settle from the off was the key to their 31-24 victory at Allianz Park.
The visitors built up an early 22-3 lead with two tries from James Wilson and one from Phil Dowson, never looking back despite Sarries’ late push.
Mallinder said: “Tactically we got it right in that first half. It's always a difficult place to play here, conditions were poor, but in the first half we played really well, got our tactics right, and got a good lead.
"These are strange weeks, these international weeks. I came into the game not quite knowing where we were at, and it showed we're in a pretty good place.”
Leicester Tigers inflicted an eighth straight Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat on London Welsh.
A double from Harry Thacker, plus scores from James Kitchener and Robert Barbieri saw Leicester to a 26-5 win, despite falling behind early on when Nick Scott crossed for the home side.
The scoreline at least represented a step in the right direction for the Exiles, who suffered a 71-7 defeat to Wasps last time out.
However, head coach Justin Burnell felt he could take little comfort from another loss.
He said: "Last week we were beaten hands down by a very, very strong Wasps team. But today we got into the right areas but made silly mistakes.
"Before the game we spoke about it, and again at half-time, but it's just about maintaining that pressure.
"So now it feels the complete opposite to last week. Now we are livid, whereas last week we were hands up fair and squarely beaten.
"Again we're coming away disappointed, but maybe even more disappointed than we were last week.”
Exeter Chiefs continued their maiden title charge with a 31-15 win over Wasps, and head coach Rob Baxter sees no reason why their fine form should stop.
The Chiefs have won five of their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby matches, the latest largely down to Jack Nowell’s double.
And with last season’s runners-up Saracens to play next, Baxter is hopeful of keeping the good times rolling at Sandy Park.
He said: “We have a huge game next week for us now, at home to Saracens, and I've told the players that the best part about winning is that you make every week a bigger game.
"I think what’s going to happen over the next few weeks amongst the top group is going to be very interesting and for us it is about maintaining as big a gap as we can.”
Bath Rugby are level on points with Exeter in third place, following their 33-23 win over London Irish, however coach Toby Booth felt his men were far from their best.
Bath led 16-6 at the interval, but were unable to kill the game off, despite never looking like surrendering their advantage.
But Booth said: "It was a very stop, start game. We couldn't build any continued pressure, but there are games like that and we were mentally tough and that's pleasing.
“We've got the win and need to take that momentum forward.
“We didn't play at our best but all that matters is the score and we're delighted with the result. It was great backing up last week's win at home."
On Friday night, Sale Sharks inflicted more misery on Harlequins, with captain Dan Braid dotting down the only try in a 16-12 win.
Conor O’Shea’s side slipped to eighth in the table with their fourth defeat of the season, while Newcastle Falcons continued their resurgence with a 20-10 win over Gloucester Rugby. Sinoti Sinoti scored Newcastle’s sole try, while Rory Clegg kicked five penalties.
London Welsh 5 Leicester Tigers 26
Tries: Thacker 2, Kitchener, Barbieri
Conversions: Bell 3
Referee: Dean Richards
Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 31
Tries: Wray, Wyles 2
Penalties: Hodgson 3
Tries: Wilson 2, Dowson
Conversions: Myler 2
Penalties: Myler 4
Referee: Matthew Carley
Exeter Chiefs 31 Wasps 15
Tries: Nowell 2, Waldrom
Conversions: Steenson 2
Penalties: Steenson 4
Tries: Miller, Lindsay
Referee: Ian Tempest
London Irish 23 Bath Rugby 33
Tries: Paice, Short
Conversions: Geraghty 2
Penalties: Geraghty 3
Tries: Penalty, Thomas, Cook
Conversions: Henson 3
Penalties: Henson 4
Referee: Andrew Small
Harlequins 12 Sale Sharks 16
Penalties: Evans 4
Penalties: Cipriani 3
Referee: Tom Foley
Newcastle Falcons 20 Gloucester Rugby 10
Penalties: Clegg 5
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
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