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Two-try Maitland escapes sanction as Saracens storm past Saints

By PA
Saracens' Sean Maitland after the Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-final match at the StoneX Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday May 13, 2023. (Photo by Ben Whitley/PA Images via Getty Images)

Saracens surged into the Gallagher Premiership final but their 38-15 victory over Northampton was tinged with controversy after Sean Maitland plundered two tries having escaped an early card.

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Last season’s runners-up were irresistible for long spells of a one-sided play-off at StoneX Stadium as they set up a Twickenham showdown with either champions Leicester or Sale, who meet on Sunday.

But Northampton will feel aggrieved that Maitland was not at least sin-binned for clattering into George Furbank with his elbows during an aerial collision that left the England back needing lengthy treatment.

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Referee Karl Dickson issued only a penalty and in making a quick decision declined to consult the TMO with the game just 25 seconds old.

To rub salt into the wound, Maitland scored Saracens’ opening two tries as part of an unstoppable first half that produced a 21-3 lead which was only briefly threatened when Northampton fought back in the third quarter.

Saracens
Max Malins scores in the corner – PA

A penalty try and Max Malins’ touchdown shut the door on the possibility of an upset and Saints, who barely fired a shot before the break, were well beaten by opponents seeking a sixth Premiership title.

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Scrum-half Ivan van Zyl was named man of the match but Alex Goode could easily have been chosen given his influence in the opening stages.

When Northampton attacked and were turned over, Goode launched a stunning counter-attack given pace by Maitland but Alex Lozowski lacked the speed to finish the move.

Goode’s vision was on display again in the seventh minute when he chipped through for Maitland to score, but it was a good afternoon to be pulling the strings with Saracens dominating the gainline.

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Maitland was over again in the 23rd minute after sustained pressure ended with Farrell producing a precision grubber for the Scotland wing to touch down.

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Any time Northampton got the ball they were hammered backwards in the tackle but they could only blame themselves for the next try as having conceded a penalty, they switched off to allow the quick-thinking Van Zyl to tap and go for an easy run-in.

Saracens led 21-3 on the half-hour mark and when faced with a rare assault on their line they rolled up their sleeves and sent Saints packing.

Nick Tompkins’ turnover shortly after the interval typified their resolve in defence and the third quarter was harder work, with Northampton showing the fire that had been missing in the first half.

Alex Mitchell skipped over in the 56th minute and Saints engineered a superb try soon after when stylish play ended with Courtney Lawes sending James Ramm over.

But the comeback was over when Saracens’ maul forced a penalty try that also saw Tom James sent to the sin-bin, before Malins completed the rout. Sarries’ Maro Itoje was yellow-carded late on.

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