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'No disrespect to Newcastle but... we would have snatched one's hand off'

By PA
Northampton Saints Dan Biggar (left) during the Gallagher Premiership match at the StoneX Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday May 21, 2022. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Northampton Saints captain Dan Biggar says he is relieved that only a home game against Newcastle stands in way between his side and a Gallagher Premiership play-off spot.

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Saints overcame the loss of two men in the sin-bin, the concession of 19 points in eight minutes to score three tries in the dying stages and pick up the bonus points to give them every chance of securing an end of season play-off spot.

Northampton still lost 42-38 but a win over struggling Newcastle at home in their final fixture will see Saints succeed in their quest for fourth place.

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Tom James scored two of Northampton’s tries with Tommy Freeman, Rory Hutchinson and Matt Proctor also on the try-scoring sheet. Dan Biggar added a penalty and five conversions.

Theo McFarland scored two tries for Saracens, Nick Tompkins, Alex Lewington and Alex Goode the others, with Owen Farrell kicking three penalties and four conversions.

“We were very sloppy in that first period after half-time so we knew we had to chance our arm but it’s still disappointing to score 38 points and come away losing,” said Biggar.

“No disrespect to Newcastle but if we had been handed a home fixture against them to secure a play-off then we would have snatched one’s hand off.

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“We are in really good form and scoring five tries will give us more confidence.”

Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd hailed the resilience of his side.

Boyd said: “Time will tell whether those two bonus points will be crucial but we showed great grit and resilience to stick in there in the first half.

“If we hadn’t we could have easily been 20 points down but Sarries came out fighting early in that second half and we didn’t respond well.

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“We decided that our only chance was to free it up and it paid dividends as it’s a pretty good achievement to come away with those points.

“We are just concentrating on the Newcastle game but we know the semi-finals won’t be played in anything like the last 15 minutes as it will be much more of a grind.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said his side needed to bounce back after last Saturday’s European exit at the hands of Toulon to secure a home semi-final in the play-offs.

McCall said: “It’s a great group of players and a great effort to get 87 points to get a home semi.

“We were really gutted at how we performed last week. Something was not quite right and maybe we were feeling a little bit pleased with ourselves after a few victories but we certainly got a punch in the face.

“We lacked accuracy in the first half and disappointed not to score against 13 men but it didn’t bother us as we knew if we cut out the mistakes then the tries would come so everyone was calm at half-time.”

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