George Pisi scored a hat-trick as Northampton Saints defeated Saracens 26-7 to book their place in next weekend’s LV= Cup final at Sandy Park.
Saracens finished the first-half the stronger of the two sides but only held a slender 7-6 lead thanks to Ben Ransom’s converted try in response to two Will Hooley penalties.
Sarries had also seen a Marcelo Bosch try chalked off for a forward pass and were made to pay for failing to make more of their dominance as Pisi crossed twice in 11 second-half minutes.
Stephen Myler added a drop goal to extend the advantage and then Pisi capped a fine display with his third try of the match with three minutes remaining.
Saints’ running game caused Saracens problems early on and when the visitors were penalised at the breakdown, Will Hooley slotted an early penalty.
After showcasing their speed in attack, Sarries then demonstrated their power game with a maul that rumbled from the ten metre line into the visitors’ 22 and once it was brought down Hooley added another three points.
The shine was taken off Saints’ perfect start when Tom Stephenson was forced to hobble off, with Myler taking the centre’s place.
Saracens’ first meaningful attacking thrust saw wing Michael Tagicakibau surging down the left flank with Ken Pisi producing a crucial tackle to snuff out the danger.
The first try of the game came on 20 minutes when Jackson Wray peeled off the back of the scrum and the ball was recycled under the Saints’ posts before Saracens’ full-back Ransom skipped past prop Ethan Waller to dot down.
The competition’s leading points scorer Spencer added to his LV= Cup haul with the conversion to put Saracens 7-6 up.
Bosch looked to have extended Saracens’ lead not long after only for his try to be chalked off for a forward pass in the build.
Saracens controlled the latter stages of the first-half but dogged Saints’ defence and Bosch’s disallowed try left them with only a one-point advantage at the break.
Both sides continued to attack after the break with Tim Streather carrying the threat for Saracens but it was Saints who struck the first telling blow of the second half.
Northampton drove the ball from an attacking lineout and George Pisi arrived on the right line at full tilt to break through the defence and ground the ball.
Hooley failed with his conversion attempt to leave Saints 11-7 ahead with 25 minutes of the match remaining.
Northampton extended their advantage to 14-7 on 57 minutes, Myler dropping back into the pocket to slot a drop goal.
The hosts continued to build momentum and pulled further away from Saracens on 64 minutes when George Pisi appeared on the overlap, threw a dummy and again burrowed over the line.
Hooley again failed to add the extras but the home side’s lead was now a commanding 19-7.
There was still time for George Pisi to produce a try-saving tackle on Charlie Hodgson after he threatened an interception try.
And Saints place in the LV= Cup final at Sandy Park was confirmed when the Samoan centre secured his hat-trick, taking advantage of another powerful maul to seal the win.