Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall admitted that Northampton Saints had been the better side in the first half at Allianz Park before they eventually came back for a third win of the season.
The defending Aviva Premiership Rugby champions had the wind at their backs in the first half, but turned around 9-9, and trailed early in the second half after a fourth Stephen Myler penalty.
But Alex Waller’s yellow card, followed by Jamie George’s opening try, turned the tide and from their Saracens never looked back in a 27-12 success, much to McCall’s delight.
McCall said: “We were second-best in the first half. We allowed some things to get under our skin a little bit. Their line speed was tremendous, and we couldn’t get any quick ball.
“We weren’t quite ourselves in the first half, but I thought in the second half we did a phenomenal job. The most encouraging thing was that we found a way to win while not being at our best.”
It was a frustrating result for Northampton, who have a good record at Saracens and performed well in the first half with France No.8 Louis Picamoles particularly prominent with ball in hand.
But they paid the price for indiscipline, with Waller followed by Sam Dickinson into the bin, and Jim Mallinder admitted they couldn’t afford to do that against a team of the calibre of Saracens.
He said: “They (Saracens) are tough enough to beat when you have got 15 men, but when you are down to 14 for 20 minutes (Dickinson was sin-binned later in the game), you are really up against it.
“I thought we did pretty well for 55 minutes, or so. We put them under pressure, and we defended with the passion and intensity that we needed to.
“They were spilling ball and we were beginning to get into them, and then a moment of madness, really, from Alex Waller started our downfall.”
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Bosch (Tompkins 73), Barritt, Wyles, Lozowski, Wigglesworth (Spencer 74), Vunipola (Barrington 73), Brits (George 50), Du Plessis (Figallo 40), Itoje, Hamilton, Rhodes (Wray 55), Burger (Brown 74), Vunipola.
Subs not used: Maitland
Northampton: Tuala (Mallinder 69), K Pisi, G Pisi (B Foden 68), Burrell, North, Myler, Dickson (Groom 64), Waller (Ma’afu 74), Haywood, Brookes (Hill 64), Lawes, Paterson (Dickinson 62), Wood, Harrison (Gibson 48)
Tries: George, Penalty
Pen: Lozowski 5
Pen: Myler 4
Referee: Greg Garner