May 31, 2014
Heartbreak for Saracens in extra time defeat
Saracens were left heartbroken as a last gasp try for Northampton Saints in the 100th minute of extra time plucked victory from the jaws of defeat for Jim Mallinder's men, as the Saints ran out 20-24 winners.
In a game that will live long in the memory dominated by controversial TMO calls, and a collective inspirational effort from both sets of players Saracens were dealt the cruelst of blows in the final seconds of extra-time as an Alex Waller try would win it for the Saints.
The game began as a means to go on -both sets of forwards scrapping for supremacy at both the breakdown and at the gainline.
First to prosper was Schalk Brits, who punched a hole in the Saints defence line. Then Billy Vunipola had a go, only for the Saints’ very own battering rams Sam Dickenson and Luther Burrell to follow suit when they had possession.
If the battle for the gainline was tense, then so was the arm-wrestle for territory as both sides sets of half-backs and Alex Goode and Ben Foden continued to probe each other’s back field defence.
It was a case of who blinked first and in this instance it was the Saints Foden whose errant kick woud lead to the first points of the game. After Foden’s clearance went straight into touch, Northampton conceded a penalty from the resulting lineout and Owen Farrell dissected the uprights to give Saracens a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes of breathless play. Farrell doubled Saracens lead soon after two give Saracens a six point cushion.
Saints though hit back on the back of a scorching Ken Pisi break. With field position secured the Saints went through the hands to find Ben Foden who crossed to score – Myler converted to give the Saints a slender one point lead going into the break.
After the break it was Saints who would score first as George Pisi ran onto Stephen Myler’s grubber kick to touch down. Myler converted a difficult touchline conversion attempt.
Saracens thought they clawed their way back when Owen Farrell crossed for a try in the 61st minute after he collected Chris Wyles’ offload. With Alex Goode just about line up the conversion referee JP Doyle decided that he would take his fourth officials advice from the comfort of his own booth to check the try again. A pass from Alex Goode in the build-up was adjudged to have gone forward so the try was chalked off as Owen Farrell limped off to be replaced by Charlie Hodgson.
With the game now in the balance and Saints looking to hang-on Sarries continued to press for that elusive score, and in the 73rd minute Marcelo Bosch crossed to level up the game at 14-14. Hodgson lined up the kick from the far right hand touchline and hit the post with his kick. The score remained the same until Mr Doyle blew up for full-time.
Both teams had produced a monumental effort after eighty minutes and to ask the 30 odd or so bodies that littered the Twickenham surface to go again for 20 more minutes was asking for a super human effort – and that exactly what both sides produced. Myler edged his side in front with the first points of the extra time period. Hodgson coolly slotted over a response minutes later.
Saracens thought they had scored an extra-time try when Jackson Wray powered over only for JP Doyle to use the TMO again for the try to be chalked off for an obstruction in the build-up.
Frustrated by the decision Saracens still plugged away and they took the lead half way into the second half of extra time when Hodgson again slotted over a penalty. With the game in the balance Saints pummelled the Saracens line for phase after phase and when Alex Waller looked to have crossed underneath the sticks Saints celebrated a last gasp win. Doyle though would again refer the decision upstairs and after minutes of uncertainty the try was awarded to the despair of the Saracens players, coaching staff and fans