Apr 24, 2017
Northampton Wanderers deny Storm in eleven try thriller
An end to end thriller at a chilly Franklin’s Gardens saw Saracens Storm denied a place in the A-league finals by Northampton Wanderers who bagged six of the eleven tries scored on the night.
The game started brightly for both sides but it was the Wanderers who were able to create the first real attacking chance of the game when full back James Wilson broke away and went racing down the touchline before being the ball was bundled in to touch. Sarries knocked on from the resulting line out and the Wanderers were able to put pressure on the Storm at the scrum. A penalty went the way of the home side but Sam Olver was unable to bag the three points for the home side.
Saints maintained their attacking pressure however and with the home side moving through the phases in the Sarries 22 Olver knocked over a drop goal to put the first points of the evening on the board and give the Wanderers a 3-0 lead. Sarries had a chance to equalise soon after but Malin’s kick flew just wide of the sticks.
Despite the Wanderers continued efforts in attack it was the men in black who were rewarded with the game’s first try. Centre Dom Morris cutting through the Saints defence only to be tackled with the try line agonisingly just out of his reach before Henry Taylor was able to ground the ball over the line. Malins was unlucky with the conversion but Sarries held a slender 5-3 lead.
In an end to end half it was not long before Saints were presented with a chance to reclaim their lead as scrum half Tom Kessell spotted a gap in the Sarries defence which he exploited to score. Olver converted to make the scores 10-5 to the Wanderers with just over ten minutes left to play in the half.
It was not long though before the Sarries attack was firing again. An impressive hit from Hayden Stringer saw a Northampton threat killed before it really got going and from the line out the Sarries were able to set up an attack. Jared Saunders breaking free before offloading to Henry Taylor who showcased his pace to set up Dom Morris who crossed over for the score. Malins converted to give Sarries a 10-12 lead.
Free flowing rugby had dominated the half with both sides looking sprightly in attack throughout the first forty and once again Saints hit back almost immediately with a score of their own. This time it was centre Tuitavake who crossed the whitewash to restore the Wanderers’ lead. With the clock in the red Saracens had one last attempt at goal but Malin’s kick edged wide and the home side maintained their 17-12 lead as the sides went in at the break.
It was Saints who were first on the board after the break, Sam Olver with the penalty to give Saints an eight point lead over their visitors. Soon after the Wanderers extended their lead, overpowering Saracens close to the line and giving hooker Charlie Clare the chance to bundle over for their third try of the evening. Olver’s conversion was wide but the hosts lead 25-12 with just over half an hour to play.
The second half continued in the same vein of the first with end to end rugby dominating the flow of the game. As the half worn on however it was the Wanderers who were looking the more dangerous and the threat was realised less than ten minutes after their third try when wing Juan Pablo Estelles broke away to score in the corner. Olver’ conversion hit the mark and Sarries suddenly found themselves trailing by a significant margin for the first time in the game.
The deficit did nothing to dampen Sarries’ efforts though and they hit back moments later when Ali Crossdale found space and slid over the whitewash. Malins’ conversion brought the score to 32-19 to the Wanderers.
A further penalty from the boot of the Wanderers’ Olver followed before Northampton looked to have put the game out of Saracens reach as Estelles broke free from his tackler to score his second of the evening in the corner. Olver converted from a tough angle to put the home side up 42-19 as the game moved into its final 15 minutes.
In a fashion typical of the game though Saracens were in for a score themselves only moments later as a string of sweet passes allowed them to move through the Wanderers defence before Nathan Earle went under the posts to score.
What looked to be the final try of the evening came from the home side as Rory Hutchinson bagged Saints’ sixth of the evening but there was still one final twist to come in this Monday night tale; Ali Crossdale crossing for his brace with two minutes left to play after a stunning show of pace to escape the Wanderers defence.
Malin’s conversion flew wide however and Saints were able to close out a 49-31 victory to book their place in the final in a week’s time.