Mar 14, 2015
Saracens 24 Northampton 20 - As it happened
Saracens booked their place in the LV=Cup Final after a 24-20 win against Northampton Saints at Allianz Park on Saturday afternoon.
In a tense and thrilling contest between the two rivals, tries from David Strettle and Mike Ellery plus 14 points from the boot of Ben Spencer was enough to edge a tight game.
Misses any of the action? Here is how the game unfolded.
0 min: Northampton Saints fly-half Sam Olver kicks off, and the game is now underway.
1 min: Saracens centre Marcelo Bosch finds touch on the halfway with a well hit kick. Lineout to Saints, with Northampton hooker Mike Hayward to throw.
2 min: Saracens quickly regain possession. A towering Ben Spencer box-kick is knocked on by the chasing Mike Ellery. Scrum to Saints on the halfway line. Still scoreless so far as the wind begins to roll in.
3 min: Penalty to goes to Saints, with Referee Dean Richards penalising the Saracens pack. Saints kick to touch, and have the lineout.
4 min: Northampton go through the phases on the Saracens line, but the home side defence looks up to the task. A Sam Olver drop goal attempt falls short. Saracens clear after some resolute work without the ball.
5 min: Penalty to Saints after Saracens are pinged for hands-in-the-ruck. Olver lines up the kick at goal for the visitors.
6 min: Good kick from the young Saints fly-half, Olver. Scores now Saracens 0 Northampton Saints 3.
7 min: Saints No8 Sam Dickinson knocks-on from the Sarries kick-off. Scrum to the home side in good field position.
7 min: But Saracens are penalised for a scrum infringement. Saints clear, but fail to make touch. Saracens full-back Ransom looks to counter.
10 min: Saints are enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory here. The visitors fashioned an overlap & looked certain to score, but great rush defence from Ben Ransom forces Northampton wing Jamie Elliott into a knock-on.
11 min: Scrum to Saracens. But they knock-on trying to exit their own 22. Saints now on the attack, with Saracens under real pressure.
12 min: That’s a brilliant turnover from Matt Hankin. Saracens’ promising openside with a big play there. Spencer clears to touch on halfway.
14 min: Northampton wing Tom Collins finds touch with a good kick to pin Saracens in their own 22. The visitors have certainly enjoyed more possession in the opening exchanges.
15 min: Free Kick awarded to Saracens after the Saints are penalised for closing the gap at the lineout. Spencer clears to touch.
16 min: Saracens penalised for not releasing. Olver to line-up a difficult penalty attempt for the Saints from the left hand touchline.
17 min: He kicks it. Olver doubles the Saints lead. Scores now Saracens 0 Northampton Saints 6.
18 min: A crazy passage of play. The Saracens kick-off chase goes wrong, and the ball finds its way to the left hand wing. Saints wing Collins chips ahead and in a foot race with fellow speedster Ben Ransom looks to ground the ball. He clearly fails to win the race and the try for Northampton is chalked off by the TMO. 22 drop out for the home side. Phew!
19 min: Saracens need a response, and they get one. That’s a big play from skipper Maro Itoje, who wins his side a penalty with some committed work at the breakdown. They have the throw the lineout in the Saints half, can the build from here?
20 min: Frustratingly, Saracens knock the ball on and once again a penalty goes to Saints at scrum time. Olver sends the ball into the West Stand. Lineout to Saints.
22 min: TRY SARACENS!! That man David Strettle is at it again. What a finish in the left hand corner from Strettle. A clever short side move with some some lovely soft hands in the build-up from Argentine centre Marcelo Bosch who finds the prolific left wing who cuts a superb line to race past the covering Saints defence to score. Saracens 5 Northampton Saints 6.
23 min: Spencer can't add the extras in blustery conditions. Scores still Saracens 5 Northampton Saints 6.
25 min: Hayden Smith is replaced by George Kruis at lock. Smith looks to be carrying a knock as he approaches the side-line gingerly.
27 min: Try Northampton. Saints No10 Olver crosses under the posts to score. Not the best defending from Saracens, as the diminutive fly-half coasts past his opposite number Mordt to score under the posts. Olver converts his own try. Saracens 5 Northampton 13.
29 min: Saint’s No9 Fotuali'i rolls a kick into touch. Saracens once again kick deep from the lineout. The Saints scrumhalf is having an influential game around the fringes.
30 min: Kicking into an extremely strong wind, Saracens just can’t exit their half. Saints look to attack with some deft offloads, but Ben Ransom (with some strong work over the ball) earns Saracens a penalty, after Saints centre Waldouck made the break.
33 min: Saracens are soaking up a lot of pressure. Ernst Joubert wins the ball on the floor after the ball popped out a Northampton ruck. Spencer clears.
34 min: Boom!! Maro Itoje puts in a huge hit on Saints playmaker Olver. The Northampton fly-half is really struggling to get back on his feet, and who can blame him. Ouch!
34 min: Now Itoje is making a break down the left wing! He's been everywhere for Saracens.
37 min: Itoje is at it again, galloping down the Western touchline. Northampton No8 Sam Dickinson does superbly well to haul down the marauding Sarries skipper short of the line.
37 min: Have Saracens scored? Ben Spencer looks to have burrowed in the left hand corner after that Itoje burst.
38 min: No Try. Spencer's foot was in touch. Lineout to Saints.
39 min: Saracens camped out on the Northampton line. They now have a penalty, Mordt send the ball into touch. Lineout to come.
39 min: But the ball is overthrown!!! Saints clear.
HT: Saracens 5 Northampton Saints 13
40min: We're back underway. Saracens now playing with the breeze behind their backs.
41min: WHAT A TRY!!! Mike Ellery with a wonder solo effort. Brilliant finish from the Cumbrian flyer. Great start to the half. Saracens with a well-worked move from a line-out involving Ellery chiming into the line coming in from his opposite wing. The former England 7s star beats two would-be defenders, then slams the breaks on, re-accelerates and then crashes over to score. A wonderful effort. Saracens 10 Northampton Saints 13.
43 min: The conversion is GOOD from Ben Spencer! Scores now Saracens 12 Northampton Saints 13.
44 min: Brilliant work from Ben Ransom and Ben Spencer as the Sarries second half response draws huge applause from the Allianz Park faithful. A superb nudge from Ransom from his own 22 is chased with interest from Spencer who forces the covering Sam Olver to shank a kick into the East Stand. Great stuff from the Sarries pair.
44 min: Sarries starting to build momentum in this game as Saints are penalised at the lineout. Spencer to take a long range kick at goal.
45 min: What a kick from the competitions leading scorer. Saracens take the lead with that Ben Spencer penalty. Saracens 15 Northampton Saints 13.
48 min: That's some clever work from Spencer. Spotting Saints wing Elliott was high up in the defensive line he grubbers behind into the space vacated from the Saints flyer. Lineout to the visitors.
49 min: Saracens are hunting Saints down in their own 22. They hurry to clear. Good pressure from the Wolf Pack.
50 min: It's been a superb response from Saracens so far in this second half. More energy, impetus and precision. Good stuff.
51 min: Northampton penalised in their own half. Spencer to line up another difficult attempt at goal.
52 min: Ice cool stuff from Ben Spencer. Great kick. Scores now Saracens 18 Northampton Saints 13 as Richard Barrington and Scott Spurling replace Rhys Gill and Jared Saunders at loosehead prop and hooker respectively.
53 min: Big swing in momentum here at Allianz Park. Penalty goes to Saracens at the scrum as the Sarries players rush to congratulate Juan Figallo and Richard Barrington for a job well done.
54 min: Northampton are under the pump here. Once again they are penalised for trying to stem the Sarries tide. Penalty awarded to the hosts. Spencer to kick at goal.
55 min: Ben Spencer makes no mistake there. The home side extend their lead to eight points. Scores now Saracens 21 Northampton Saints 13.
56 min: Olver's pass drifts forward in the Saints back field. Scrum to Saracens who are looking to crank up the pressure on the visitors.
57 min: Clever little scuttle from Ben Spencer who breaks the Saints defence, but his offload can't find David Strettle as Saints look to counter from their own 22.
59 min: Saints in good position deep in the Sarries 22. Still on the attack.
60 min: Great defence once again from Saracens. Scrum awarded to the home side after they frustrate Jim Mallinder’s side.
64 min: Northampton looking for a response as they rotate their bench, sending on experienced duo Dickson and Myler. They now have a lineout deep in Saracens territory.
65 min: Saints Try. Lee Dickson crosses in the corner after a typically powerful Northampton Saints driving maul. Myler converts expertly from the touchline. Saracens 21 Northampton Saints 20.
67 min: Kelly Brown replaces Matt Hankin (who has had a fine game).
67 min: Saints’ hooker Mike Hayward's throw is not straight. Scrum awarded to Saracens who are looking to wrestle back control of this game after a Northampton purple patch.
69 min: Spencer rolls the ball into the Saints 22. Collins clears, but Sarries have a lineout in the Saints half.
71 min: Saracens moving through the phases in the Saints 22. Some good carries from Itoje and Kruis.
72 min: Drop Goal! Nils Mordt splits the posts after some fine multiple phase play in the build-up. Scores now Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 20.
73 min: Biyi Alo replaces Juan Figallo at tighthead. It's been a fine shift from the Argentine prop who has some much needed game time in the bank.
74 min: Penalty to Saracens at the lineout. This a long range kick attempt for Ben Spencer. Can he kick it?
74 min: Agonising…Spencer misses!! Scores still Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 20.
75 min: Saints attacking sown the Saracens right hand edge. Oh dear this looks ominous, Saints have a three man overlap just 20 metres out.
76 min: What a superb effort Nick de Jager! Saints with a three man overlap looked certain to score, but De Jager manages to bundle replacement full-back James Wilson into touch. Big play from the Saracens loose forward.
76 min: Saints back on the attack. But Saracens turn them over. Tense times here at Allianz Park.
77 min: Saracens gift Saints the ball back, after they are pinged for being in at the side. Myler boots Saints to halfway.
78 min: Big Penalty! Kelly Brown with some fine openside work on the ground forces the Saints attacker to hold on as the Scottish flanker jackles the tackler. Massive play from the experienced loose forward. Can Sarries now breathe a sigh of relief?
78 min: Oh No! Mordt misses his touch and Saints are gifted one last chance to mount an attack. Fingernails now down to their barest length.
79 min: Northampton awarded a penalty. They’ll surly go to touch to use their strong catch and drive.
79 min: But Dickson taps and goes. Saints still attacking.
80 min: The ball squeezes out of the breakdown…Barrington gleefully drops onto it.
80 min: Saracens recycle the ball. Spencer boots it dead. It’s all over. Saracens are through to the LV=Cup Final.
FT: Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 20