Fixtures - Top Bar

Match Reaction: Saracens 29 Northampton Saints 20

MakoVunipolaSarSaints1516SB1005

Saracens’ comeback 29-20 victory against Northampton Saints may have sealed a European Champions Cup semi-final with fellow Aviva Premiership Rugby side Wasps, but Mark McCall believes his charges were lucky to progress.

Owen Farrell’s early penalty had given Sarries’ the lead at Allianz Park, but it was Jim Mallinder’s side who played the better and despite spurning several gilt-edged try-scoring opportunities, led 10-6 at half-time.
 
Saints – along with semi-final opponents Wasps – are one of two sides to beat Sarries at home this season.

And it looked as though McCall’s outfit may succumb to their Northampton hoodoo once more until second-half scores from the recently returned Chris Ashton and consistent Chris Wyles put paid to the visitors.
 
Though McCall was disappointed with his side’s uncharacteristic sloppiness, he acknowledged that the ability to win while playing below their own extremely high standards was perhaps a positive.  
 
"In the first half we didn't play anywhere near to the level that we can," he said.
 
"Maybe we played not to lose a bit and we were lucky to be only four points down at half-time.
 
"These games are different, there's a lot at stake. This was the first game of the season where it's on the line and if you lose you're out of the competition.”
 
Saints’ Jamie Elliott spilled the ball while dotting down and Stephen Myler looked nervy as he skewed two first-half penalty attempts and though they led at half-time, the four-point margin did little to reflect their dominance and ambition with ball-in-hand.
 
And McCall knows Sarries got out of jail against the 2000 European Champions and that they have much to work on if they are to overturn a Wasps side that put 64 points on them at Allianz Park in Aviva Premiership Rugby round 12.
 
"Give Northampton a lot of credit because they put us under all sorts of pressure at the breakdown,” the former Ulster coach said.
 
"Good teams find a way of getting the job done. We were nowhere near our best and the last few weeks in the Premiership were almost too easy for us in a way.
 
"We know we'll have to improve a lot of things against Wasps in the semi-finals."
 
Mallinder was without internationals Tom Wood, Kieran Brookes and England’s Grand Slam winning captain Dylan Hartley.
 
And though he was pleased by the way the likes of Ben Nutley showed up, Mallinder suggested the lengthy sick list took its toll as the game wore on.
 
“Maybe if we had our international players the final quarter would have been different," he said.
 
"For 60 minutes we did pretty well. I was really pleased, our defence was outstanding and helped by our outstanding back row.
 
"We looked to attack them, not run into brick walls. We're disappointed to lose, but proud of the performance.”
 
Saracens: Goode (Ransom, 77); Ashton, Taylor, Barritt (Bosch, 77), Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth (de Kock, 40); Vunipola M (Barrington, 77), Brits (Saunders, 77), Du Plessis (Lamositele, 77), Itoje, Kruis, Wray (Rhodes, 52), Fraser (Hargreaves, 77), Vunipola B
 
Northampton Saints: Foden (Mallinder, 47); K Pisi, G Pisi (Hanrahan, 71), Burrell, Elliott; Myler, Fotuali'i (Kessell, 69); Waller (Ma’afu, 61), Haywood (Marshall, 77), Hill (Denman, 69), Craig, Day (Matfield, 61), Lawes, Nutley (Paterson, 66), Harrison
 
Saracens
Tries: Ashton, Wyles
Conversions: Farrell 2
Penalties: Farrell 5
 
Northampton Saints:
Tries: Pisi, Lawes
Conversions: Myler 2
Penalties: Myler

Watch England's finest at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May from only £30 for adults & £15 for children. Click here for tickets

 

Latest News

Worcester Warriors ‘unlucky’ in defeat to Wasps, says Ryan Bower

Worcester Warriors prop Ryan Bower admits it was important for his side to put in a performance against Wasps after their humbling Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat…

Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

In-form Henry Purdy desperate to keep improving at Gloucester Rugby

Henry Purdy is refusing to rest on his laurels and has vowed to push on hard, despite praise from all…

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Max Clark the centre of attention at Bath Rugby

Back in September – just when Bath Rugby were beginning to count on him in the centres – an ill-timed…

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Seven tries success for Exeter Braves over Bath United

Exeter Braves’ Shaun Malton and Levi Davis of Bath United became the first opponents since 2005 to both score hat-tricks…

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Worcester Warriors capture Samoa lock Chris Vui

Warriors have completed the signing of versatile Samoa forward Chris Vui till the end of the season. For everything you…

Chris Vui

Wallabies lock Will Skelton joins Saracens

Australian international forward Will Skelton has joined Saracens on a short-term deal. For everything you need to know about Saracens…

Will Skelton

Rowe hails ‘fantastic’ year for Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, heralded a “fantastic” past year – on and off the…

Exeter Chiefs celebrate

Dan Tuohy joins Bristol Rugby with immediate effect

Dan Tuohy has penned a deal with Bristol Rugby to make the switch to Aviva Premiership Rugby with immediate effect.…

Dan Tuohy

Ally Hogg, Cooper Vuna, Aaron Morris, Lachlan Turner, Bryce Heem and Dan Robson head the Opta Rugby Rankings

Attacks dominated as Newcastle Falcons claimed a dramatic win over Harlequins this weekend in Premiership Rugby but Ally Hogg starred…

allyhogg16sb1111

Premiership Rugby backs Newcastle’s bid for 2018 European Rugby Cup Finals

Premiership Rugby today confirmed its “100% support” for Newcastle’s bid to become host city for European club rugby union's showpiece…

Newcastle Falcons celebrate

Newcastle launches bid for 2018 European Rugby Cup finals

Newcastle is bidding to become the host city for European club rugby union's showpiece weekend in May 2018. The aim…

Newcastle Falcons celebrate

Aviva Premiership Rugby wrap: Round 10

Maro Itoje could not mark his return to a Saracens jersey with a victory – but his director of rugby…

BATH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Maro Itoje of  Saracens is tackled by Max Lahiff of Bath during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at the Recreation Ground on December 3, 2016 in Bath, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Pat Lam confirmed as Bristol Rugby head coach

Bristol Rugby is delighted to announce the appointment of Pat Lam as the Club’s new Head Coach. The 48 year-old…

Pat Lam

Newcastle Falcons v Saracens kick-off time change

Premiership Rugby can confirm that the kick-off time for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Round 17 Newcastle Falcons v Saracens fixture…

Aviva Premiership ball