Mar 14, 2015
Saracens beat Saints to book final place
Saracens produced another stunning comeback to beat Northampton Saints 24-20 in a tense and nervy LV=Cup semi-final.
Trailing 13-5 at half time, Saracens flew out of the traps to run into a 21 -13 lead with Mike Ellery’s stunning solo effort a particular highlight as Saracens march on to next weekend’s LV=Cup final at Franklin’s Gardens.
Ben Spencer was in typical metronomic form from then kicking tee, kicking 14 points in blustery conditions in north London.
The Saints, who were looking to book a place at a ‘home’ LV Final, ran into a six point lead with two well taken penalties from Northampton No10 Sam Olver.
In the first half Saracens played into the infamous ‘Barnet Breeze’ with Joe Shaw’s side struggling to establish territory in the Saints half for the majority of the opening 40 minutes. It could have been much worse for the north Londoner’s if Saints were not denied a try in the corner, as Ben Ransom managed to touch down in the Saracens try area ahead of winger Tom Collins.
Saracens needed a response, and it came from free scoring winger David Strettle. In what was a typically superb finish from the 31-year old wing in corner, with a a clever delayed pass from Marcelo Bosch in the build-up unlocking the Saints rear-guard. Kicking into the wind, Spencer couldn't add the extras.
Northampton responded with a try of their own, after Sam Olver shrugged off the tackle of Nils Mordt to cross over under the posts. The Saints fly half converted to put Northampton eight points in front.
Saracens showed all their defensive qualities to repel Northampton after a catch and drive from the lineout brought them metres away from the home side's try line. The Saints were on the march, and Saracens captain Maro Itoje took it upon himself to stem the Green tide.
A huge hit from the Saracens captain was followed up by a galloping run down the left wing.
Minutes later Itoje was at it again. This time the England Saxons bolter was just caught by Sam Dickinson metres away from the Saints try line. Saracens recycled and Ben Spencer thought he'd scored in the corner, but it was rightly chalked off by the TMO as the half time whistle blew with Saints leading 13-5 at the break.
Almost immediately after the restart Saracens decided that enough was enough in terms of letting Saints play. With that they looked to assert themselves on the Premiership champions and it was winger Mike Ellery who landed the first blow.
Ellery decided to go solo on this one, sidestepping and jinking his way past three Northampton players to touch down in the corner for a superb try. Spencer slotted a difficult conversion to make it a three point game.
Another successful Spencer penalty took Saracens into the lead for the first time in the match.
Saracens continued to take the game to the Saints and won another penalty in the Northampton 22. Ben Spencer coolly slotted the kick from the touch line to stretch Saracens' lead.
Playing like a team possessed Saracens won another penalty in the Saints 22. Again Spencer dispatched to put Saracens eight points ahead.
Saints brought on their highly experienced bench, and it was substitute Lee Dickson crossed over in the corner after a catch and drive by Northampton from the lineout. Fellow replacement Myler converted with a kick from the corner to reduce the deficit to one point.
Saracens' Nils Mordt responded with a long distance drop goal to give the hosts some breathing space with the game finely poised at 24-20.
Saints sent on the kitchen sink and duly launched it at Saracens. The Wolf Pack though stood tall, with Nick de Jager making a crucial last gasp tackle on James Wilson in the 77th minute.
A huge turnover by Kelly Brown followed in the 78th minute to earn Saracens a pressure relieving penalty only for Mordt to fail to find touch and Saracens had to defend a final Northampton onslaught. But defend they did, and the Men in Black held out for the win to Gate-crash the Gardens next Sunday.