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Unwanted England star saves day as Saracens mount unlikely comeback

By PA
Press Association

Saracens produced a magnificent comeback to seal a 45-39 victory over Northampton and maintain their unbeaten Gallagher Premiership record in a thrilling game at the StoneX Stadium.

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Saracens looked sure-fire losers when rampant Saints led 39-17 after 52 minutes but – aided by two yellow cards for Northampton – the home side conjured up a miraculous recovery to leave Saints holding their heads in their hands as to how they ended up losers.

Sean Maitland scored two tries for Saracens, while Gareth Simpson, Josh Hallett, Ben Earl and Elliot Daly added one apiece, with Alex Goode kicking a penalty and five conversions and Alex Lozowski adding a conversion.

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Fraser Dingwall scored a hat-trick of tries for Northampton with Mike Haywood and Courtney Skosan also on the try-scoring sheet. Finn Smith added four conversions and two penalties.

A third-minute penalty from Goode gave Saracens an early lead but it was Saints who scored the first try of the game when Haywood finished off a driving line-out.

The hosts then suffered two blows in quick succession. First prop Robin Hislop departed to fail an HIA before a well-timed pass from Rory Hutchinson created the space for co-centre Dingwall to crash over for Northampton’s second.

Smith converted both tries to leave Saints with a deserved 14-3 lead at the end of a lively first quarter.

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Saracens were lethargic in that opening period but they sprung to life with an excellent try. On halfway they moved the ball wide for Daly to make the running before providing Maitland with an easy run-in.

Goode converted from the touchline before his side suffered another injury blow when full-back Malins left the field with a leg injury.

Goode was off-target with a 40-metre penalty attempt before the irrepressible Saracens captain Earl had a try ruled out by the TMO for crossing earlier in the move.

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To compound a miserable five minutes for the home side, Goode was harshly penalised for a late tackle with Smith knocking over the resulting kick before the outside half made a clean break to send Dingwall racing away for his second.

Smith converted and added a penalty with Saracens’ woes continuing when they lost replacement prop James Flynn to another HIA failure, resulting in passive scrums.

The home side badly needed a response to stem the tide and got one when Andy Christie burst away to give Maitland his second to leave the hosts trailing 27-17 at the interval.

Two minutes later, Saracens prop Marco Riccioni became their fourth injury victim, being helped off with a leg problem to be replaced by Ethan Lewis and leave them with two hookers in the front row.

The game looked up for luckless Saracens when Dingwall completed his hat-trick to reward a neat round of passing with Smith missing the conversion to end a run of 17 successes since joining Saints.

A burst from Angus Scott-Young created a try for Skosan but Saints lost lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto to the sin-bin for a high tackle.

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That was the boost that Saracens needed and they gave themselves a glimmer of hope when replacements Simpson and Hallett both scored converted tries in quick succession.

Salakaia-Loto returned from the bin to temporarily stem the tide but Saints scrum-half Tom James – seconds after coming onto the field – was yellow carded for a high tackle to set up a tense final eight minutes.

Earl raced over for a try that his man-of-the-match performance deserved before Daly completed the remarkable comeback with the match-winner two minutes from time.

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