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Match Reaction: Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 20

Saracens starlet Maro Itoje insists his side went into the break knowing they could turn the game around in the second half after the Londoners reached their first LV= Cup final at the expense of Northampton Saints.

The 24-20 defeat is even harder to take for Jim Mallinder’s men considering a Franklin’s Gardens final was in their sights after a dominant first half.

Young fly-half Sam Olver scooped up 13 points with a try, conversion and two penalties, though the lethal David Strettle did strike with a converted try.

Mike Ellery’s superb break and finish then woke Sarries up from their slumber in the second half, with Saints becoming increasingly sloppy and allowing Ben Spencer to slot through three penalties.

Lee Dickson came off the bench and dotted down to make things dicey for Saracens in the final 20 minutes, but a Nils Mordt drop-goal and some last-ditch defending saw them through.

And skipper Itoje said: “Saints are a top team and we know they’re not at the top of the Premiership for no reason, top teams have quality individuals and I’m just so happy we were able to get the result we wanted.

“(The second half) was exactly what we needed, we had the wind behind us and we knew it was going to be a little bit easier. But saying that we still had to work hard to get what we wanted. So I’m really happy with the result.

“It’s a special moment, not just for me, I have five, six, seven quality generals and quality leaders in that team.

“Without their help and without their guidance, their leadership, I wouldn’t be able to do my job. So I’d like to thank those individuals for helping me out.”

Saints still have much to play for this season – not at least as pacesetters at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table – but Mallinder admits a Franklin’s Gardens final would have been a special occasion.

"To have the final at Franklin's Gardens would have been ideal as it's something we have been targeting,” he said.

"We should have been further ahead at the interval and then to concede Ellery's try so soon after the interval was a killer blow.

"Sarries played well in slowing our ball down, but we didn't play well enough over the whole 80 minutes."
 
Saracens: Ransom; Ellery, Bosch, Streather, Strettle; Mordt, Spencer; Gill (Barrington 51), Saunders (Spurling 51), Figallo (Alo 72); Itoje, Smith (Kruis 24); de Jager, Hankin (Brown 66), Joubert
Replacements not used: Whiteley, Palamo, Fercu
 
Northampton Saints: Tuala (Wilson 72); Elliott, Stephenson, Waldouck, Collins; Olver (Myler 60), Fotuali’I (Dickson 60); Corbisiero (Waller 61), Haywood (Williams 72), Ma’afu (Denman 55); Manoa, Ryder (Nutley 72); Fisher (Clark 55), Dowson, Dickinson
Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 20
 
Saracens
Tries: Strettle, Ellery
Conversions: Spencer
Penalties: Spencer 3
Drop-goal Mordt
 
Northampton Saints
Tries: Olver, Dickson
Conversions: Olver, Myler
Penalties: Olver 2

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final are selling faster than this time last year so with just five rounds to go, now’s the time to click here to book your place at the world’s biggest club rugby final.
 

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