Saracens were pushed hard but showed their class in the last 20 minutes as a Jamie George try inspired them to a 27-12 Aviva Premiership Rugby win over Northampton Saints at Allianz Park.
The first half was level pegging with three penalties apiece for Stephen Myler and Alex Lozowski before the Saints fly-half put the visitors back in front just after the break.
But George’s try seconds after Alex Waller’s yellow card turned the tide and they added a penalty try while Waller was still in the bin to make it a two-score game.
From there Northampton could not find a way back, despite having the wind at their backs in the second half, as Saracens made it three from three in the league.
The last three games between the sides had been won by the visiting team, and for much of this one it looked like Saints might extend that run.
But Saracens aren’t champions for nothing, and their ability to turn it on in the final 20 minutes laid down a marker to the rest of the league.
Playing into the wind in the first half, Northampton got off to the perfect start with an early three points from Myler after Michael Rhodes strayed offside.
However Saracens were soon back level thanks to a penalty from Lozowski, and when Teimana Harrison was pinged at the breakdown, the fly-half slotted a second to make it 6-3.
It was very physical in the opening quarter, and after a series of charges from the big Saints ball-carriers, a second penalty from Myler into the wind levelled the scores.
Northampton were regularly making ground with ball in hand, with France No.8 Louis Picamoles clearly enjoying himself with every charge over the gainline.
On the half-hour Mako Vunipola found himself penalised for boring in at a scrum, and from 40 metres out Myler made no mistake to put the visitors back in front.
However just before half-time, Saints were pinged for sealing off and Lozowski slotted his third penalty of the afternoon to level the scores at the break.
Myler could have put Northampton back in front early in the second half but was off-target from 45 metres out.
But when Richard Wigglesworth was penalised for a late shove on Waller, Myler made up for it by adding a fourth penalty of the game to make it 12-9.
However soon after, Waller was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on George, and Saracens chose to kick to the corner rather than take the points.
That decision proved a masterstroke as a quick lineout was returned to George by quick hands from Billy Vunipola and the hooker raced over. Lozowski’s conversion was off-target but still the home side led 14-12.
It was a ferocious game, with both teams willing to give it a go but the closer it got to the end, the more Saracens appeared in control.
And after their maul got the upper hand, Greg Garner gave them a penalty try for a Northampton collapse, with Lozowski’s conversion making it 21-12.
The momentum was all with Saracens, and Saints lost Sam Dickinson for persistent infringements with ten minutes to go. Lozowski added three more from in front of the posts.
And he added a final penalty just to kill off any hopes of a Saints bonus point with Northampton denied a late Mike Heywood try for a forward pass.