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Saracens' five-match winning streak is ended by gritty Northampton

By PA
Saracens' Olly Hartley gets tackled (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Northampton ended Saracens’ five-match winning streak as Phil Dowson’s men secured a gritty 18-12 Gallagher Premiership win at StoneX Stadium on Saturday evening.

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The Saints enjoyed the better of the first period, showing real defensive resilience as they headed in at half-time 6-0 up thanks to two Fin Smith penalties.

Tries from Ollie Sleightholme and Alex Mitchell made sure of the victory, despite Saracens threatening a late fightback when Alex Lewington crossed over with seven minutes to go.

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Both teams had gone into the game without key players, with Saracens missing Owen Farrell due to a knee injury just days after he announced a break from international rugby while Lewis Ludlam was out for Saints with an ankle problem.

It was Northampton who started on the front foot, but they missed the chance to go ahead when Smith sent his penalty attempt wide from distance.

However, Smith made amends soon after as the visitors continued their determined start to the match. Smith then doubled the lead with another penalty – this time earned at the scrum – and Northampton were continuing to get chances to apply pressure in the home half.

But Saracens did not look in danger of conceding a try and they had chances of their own to turn the screw before the break, kicking two penalties to the corner.

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Northampton were proving a hard nut to crack though and they forced a knock-on before turning over a home maul. It meant the Saints could go in at the break with a slender lead.

The away side brought on Temo Mayanavanua for his debut at the interval, the Fiji lock taking the place of Chunya Munga, who had failed a head injury assessment.

Saracens sent on some reinforcements of their own early in the second half, replacing their entire front row, meaning Jamie George and Mako Vunipola were among those introduced.

But Saints were still showing real energy and after George Furbank led a breakaway, the men in white kept their composure, with Fraser Dingwall’s crossfield kick finding Sleightholme, who gathered and scored.

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Smith added the extras to make it 13-0, but Saracens responded quickly, setting up camp in the Saints’ 22 and with Alex Coles down injured, Manu Vunipola’s excellent pass found Tom Parton in space to dive over.

Coles had to be helped from the field before Manu Vunipola hit the left post with his conversion attempt. Northampton responded with a sucker-punch score, with Angus Scott-Young leading a break before finding Mitchell, who finished in fine fashion.

Smith saw his conversion come back off the left post, leaving the gap at 13 points and Saracens were threatening to make Northampton pay for that miss when Lewington latched onto a grubber kick to score, with Manu Vunipola cutting the gap to six points with the conversion.

Northampton held their nerve, going through the phases in the final stages to make sure of a crucial away win.

  • Click here for all the RugbyPass stats from the Saracens versus Northampton Premiership game
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