Saracens extended their lead at the summit of the Aviva Premiership by beating Northampton in what turned out to be a tense match at Allianz Park.
Tries from David Strettle, Kelly Brown and Man of the Match Marcelo Bosch was enough to see of the Saints, who rallied in the final minutes to make the match a four point ball game.
Both sides were intent on putting on a show of free flowing rugby in front of a sell-out crowd in a sun drenched Allianz Park.
Saracens were enterprising with ball in hand. Big forwards such as Mouritz Botha, Billy Vunipola and Jackson Wray carried well with half-back’s De Kock and Farrell looking to up the tempo at every occasion as Saracens looked to run with the ball with some regularity.
After the two teams jostled for position it was the home side who took the lead. Deep in Saints territory, Owen Farrell split the Northampton rear-guard with a well-judged grubber kick for winger David Strettle, who raced onto the ball to finish in the south-east corner, a familiar sight for Allianz Park regulars. Farrell missed what was a difficult conversion.
Saints may have been struggling with Saracens wide runners but up-front they were equal to the task, with Calum Clarke, Courtney Lawes and the typically rumbustious Samu Manoa all tacking and carrying well. It came as no surprise that the Saints reply came from their pack after Stephen Myler sent over a 14th minute penalty. The away sides driving maul marched Saracens towards their own line and they were adjudged to have dragged down the rolling maul illegally giving Greg Garner no choice but to award a penalty try – Myler converted after 18 minutes.
Saracens though continued to look the more dangerous side between the Premiership’s top two teams, with hooker Schalk Brits a constant menace. And it was the fleet-footed hooker who would be the creator-in-chief for Saracens second try. Collecting the ball in midfield, Brits showed incredible footwork to dance around the Saints defenders and showed equally impressive pace to accelerate through the gap. Saracens recycled and after the ball went through the hands of Botha, Wray and Borthwick, Kelly Brown collected the ball on the right wing to score. Farrell converted.
As the half wore on Saracens added three more penalties one from Farrell, and two from Marcelo Bosch with one kick from the Argentine sailing over from 58 metres.
The second half resumed with Saracens again looking the stronger side, and when Marcelo Bosch crossed for a try in the 55th minute Sarries looked in cruise control. As the game wore on, Saracens didn’t looked to be troubled by Jim Mallinder’s side, but when Matt Stevens was yellow carded after 71 minutes the match was turned on its head.
First Luther Burrell crossed for the Saints, reaching out to score just right of the Saracens posts, then two minutes later it was George North’s turn. The giant Welsh winger using all of his size and bulk to burrow his way over the home sides try line to score. Stephen Myler converted to reduce Saracens lead to four points.
The east midlander’s tails were up and the the game became frantic in the last few minutes, but the 14-men in red and black though were able to see out in the game in what was a tense finale.
Next up for Saracens in a trip up to the north east to face the Newcastle Falcons next Sunday.
Scores Tries Strettle (9 mins),Brown(22),Bosch(55),
Pens Bosch 2, Farrell.
Yellow card Stevens 71 mins
Saracens: 15. Chris Wyles; 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Marcelo Bosch(rep Streather 71 mins), 12. Brad Barritt, 11. David Strettle; 10. Owen Farrell(Hodgson 41), 9. Neil de Kock(Wigglesworth 51), 1. Mako Vunipola(Barrington 57), 2. Schalk Brits(George 51),3. James Johnston(Stevens 51),4. Steve Borthwick (c)(Sheriff 57) 5. Mouritz Botha, 6. Jackson Wray(Burger 71),7. Kelly Brown(Johnston 72),8. Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16. Jamie George, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. Matt Stevens, 19. Eoin Sheriff, 20. Jacques Burger, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Charlie Hodgson, 23. Tim Streather.