MATCH REPORT | Northampton Saints 6-30 Saracens Men
Saracens Men started 2022 in perfect style with a dominant 30-6 victory over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.
Mark McCall’s men produced a sensational second half, scoring 24 unanswered points in the pouring rain to remain second in the Gallagher Premiership table.
Alex Lozowski, Tom Woolstencroft and Maro Itoje all crossed the try-line on a brilliant afternoon for the North Londoners.
The Men in Black made a strong start and a scrum penalty inside the Saints half gave Alex Lozowski the chance to open the scoring from the tee, which he duly accepted to put Sarries 3-0 up with just six minutes on the clock.
Dan Biggar then levelled it up almost straight from the restart as the hosts got a penalty, meaning it was 3-3 after a lively opening 10 minutes.
Saints then threatened to score the first try of the match as George Furbank’s break took them deep in to the 22, but Elliot Daly was alert to gather the grubber and ensure the try-line remained intact.
The hosts looked the more likely and Courtney Lawes then charged down Ivan Van Zyl’s grubber, but he was beaten by the bounce to the relief of the visiting supporters.
Van Zyl was then called in to action again as Ollie Sleightholme broke through the line, but his crucial last ditch tackle stopped a certain score.
Sarries, who had soaked up plenty of pressure then had the chance to take the lead with another penalty, but it went just to the right of the posts and the score stayed at 3-3.
Lozowski didn’t have to wait long for another opportunity though as Max Malins was taken out in the air, and he kicked it straight through the uprights to put his side 6-3 ahead.
Northampton were then camped on the Sarries line for another spell as we headed towards half time, but another incredible period of defence eventually ended with a penalty, as the bench erupted in celebration.
Saints did get level just before the break as a scrum penalty gave Biggar an easy shot at goal, and that proved to be the last meaningful act of an eventful first half as the sides went down the tunnel level at 6-6.
Sarries then made the perfect start to the second half as they began to flex their muscles. Alex Goode’s 50:22 took them in to the red zone, and then he offloaded to Lozowski who broke through and then dived over the line to go in front. He then converted his own try as the lead grew to 13-6 with 45 minutes played.
Maro Itoje then stole the ball and hacked it ahead in to space as Sarries looked to put their foot down, but he was taken out and Saints scrambled back to clear.
Then came a crucial moment as Sarries were awarded a penalty in perfect kicking range after an error from the hosts, and Lozowski lapped up the opportunity to take the lead out of converted try range.
The visitors then dominated the territory in the final quarter as their game management came to the forefront, and as a maul powered towards the line it was brought down by Conor Carey who was yellow carded, meaning Saints would be down to 14 men for the remainder of the match.
The extra man proved to be the difference, as Tom Woolstencroft scored to put the result beyond doubt. A penalty was kicked to within five metres of the line, and then the maul hammered over to allow the hooker to dot down. Lozowski’s conversion meant his side were now 23-6 ahead.
Itoje then added further gloss to the scoreboard on what was becoming a memorable day for the Londoners. A penalty again went deep in the 22, and after Eroni Mawi bundled his way right up to the line, the second-rower then carried and powered over. Lozowski was again on the money from the tee, bringing up the 30 point mark.
They then saw out the remaining minutes and celebrated a crucial win to keep themselves firmly in the top four.