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SAINTS 26 SARACENS 7 As it happened

Ken Pisi takes on the Saracens defence at the Gardens © Getty Images

Match Report SAINTS 26 SARACENS 7 As it happened

The Saints are into a third LV= Cup final in five years, George Pisi's second half hat-trick doing the damage at Franklin's Gardens against Saracens.

KO
Nils Mordt starts this LV= Cup semi-final...
SAINTS 0 SAR 0

2mins
Saints get something going with their very first attack, George and Ethan freeing their arms and offloading in a flowing move. Collins just runs out of space on the left touchline but a promising start nonetheless.
SAINTS 0 SAR 0

4mins
Another offload from George this time finds Sarries hands but they dive off their feet at the breakdown and Hooley has an early penalty chance. Lovely, crisp strike and three points on the board for the fly half and Saints.
SAINTS 3 SAR 0

6mins
Second penalty of the day and while it’s a Saracens put in, Saints are awarded the penalty as the visiting front row flops to the turf. Hooley takes Saints into Sarries territory and the maul is on.
SAINTS 3 SAR 0

8mins
And what a maul! The Saints pack rumble their way into Sarries’ 22 all the way from the 10m line and with no other, the defence finally tugs it down. Hooley sends through a second penalty of the afternoon to double the lead.
SAINTS 6 SAR 0

11mins
Saracens now putting the ball through the hands but it all gets a little disjointed in midfield. Spencer picks up though and bobbles an excellent little kick into touch 8m from the Saints line.
SAINTS 6 SAR 0

12mins
Disappointing end to Stephenson’s afternoon as he is helped from the field, possibly after a blow to the head. Myler is on, meaning Hooley shifts across one to 12. Saints then scrum for a penalty.
SAINTS 6 SAR 0

14mins
Warning shot fired by Sarries. Saints lose the penalty lineout and with spare men wide, Ransom and Tagicakibau streak forward. Good first tackle from Collins is followed up by Ken’s hit on the Saracens full back but territory is now firmly in the visitors’ hands.
SAINTS 6 SAR 0

18mins
Excellent cover work from Foden as Saints defend a man light. It’s another worrying looking injury to deal with - Dickinson down holding an ankle and Manoa is being readied. Reckon Saracens are looking forward to seeing him?!
SAINTS 6 SAR 0

18mins
The no.8 wants to resume though and with help from a bit of strapping, he does. First action back in the game will be to defend a 5m scrum after a smart Saints lineout is punished for not being straight.
SAINTS 6 SAR 0

20mins
Saracens now perilously close to the Saints line and when Ransom spots a mis-match against Ethan, he skips round the prop and over. LV= Cup leading points scorer Spencer converts.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

23mins
Possession is being monopolised by the hosts at the minute, Saints having to kick for territory from deep. A spill in midfield will help that cause though and after powerful work from Dickinson from the base, Ken flies upo the right touching. Foden follows it up with a good grubber for touch.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

28mins
The Saints’ leading turnover pincher Fotuali’i pilfers another from the ground but the passes aren’t quite sticking at the minute for the Saints. There’s a little flash of magic thrown into the mix by Collins though, who skips away from the attention of two Saracens to get the hosts going forward again.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

30mins
Credit has to go to Saracens for how they assumed control of this game. Even with the ball in Saints hands, they flood the breakdown but Spencer hits a rare wide one and the scores are unchanged.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

33mins
That’s a lively break from Botha and an equally decent offload to match. Bosch tries on too many though and a spill in the next phase lets the Saints off.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

36mins
Saracens are in again through Bosch but it looked like there was a forward pass from Mordt in the build up. Referee Hodges isn’t sure, but the TMO is and the score is chalked off.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

38mins
Another move is building nicely for Saracens after solid maul and George’s break. A Saints defender gets over the ball limpet-like though and it’s that man Fotuali’i again.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

HT
Saints are happy to play out what has been Saracens’ half, no doubt. Thanks to two early penalties and some decent defence though, it’s only a one-gap disadvantage and Saints will be hoping to re-emerge with the same vigour as against Gloucester last weekend.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

40mins
Myler restarts the match, better needed from the Saints...
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

42mins
Good little start from the Saints, Ethan, Myler and Fotuali’i all involved in some nice handling but worryingly another slack pass goes to ground and their first possession of the half is coughed up.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

45mins
More peril as Streather cuts a line but with men outside, his attempts to go inside result in a forward pass. Another close shave for Saints, who are riding their luck a little it has to be said.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

47mins
The Gardens perks up as Collins races clear from a scrappy passage of play but Saints had followed a Sarries knock on with one of their own and the winger only makes it 20m upfield before the referee waves him back.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

47mins
That should get something going. Big scrum on the Saints’ 22m line and a penalty Myler punts to halfway. Saints will have a chance with the ball.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

49mins
Sarries making changes to their fragile front row as Foden pins them into their own 22. Gill and Johnston are on for Barrington and du Plessis.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

50mins
Gill’s first contribution is a comes kick forward and a race he never looks likely of winning against Foden. Saints kick forward and Ransom almost gifts Ken a run in with a risky overhead pass. Lovely kick from Fotuali’i sends Wilson scampering back and into touch 5m from home. Prop change for Saints now too.
SAINTS 6 SAR 7

52mins
SAINTS TRY!! Maul, penalty is the result of lineout number one and unsurprisingly Myler sends it back to the corner for more of the same. Dickinson is close, George hits the line at pace but there’s some brilliant work from Mordt to try and keep the centre up. To no avail though and Saints are back in front.
SAINTS 11 SAR 7

53mins
The Gardens really turned up the volume there but they’re left disappointed as Hooley skews a kick wide for the first time today.
SAINTS 11 SAR 7

56mins
Now trailing, Saracens are emptying their bench in a bid to regain control of the game. Smith, de Jager, de Kock and Hodgson are all on; Sheriff, Melck, Spencer and Mordt all depart as Saints win a scrum penalty. Home changes see Clark and Manoa replace Nutley and Craig.
SAINTS 11 SAR 7

58mins
Myler puts Saints into the red zone again with the penalty. Lineout drive is the option but when Sarries stem the maul, Manoa crashes forward, Myler drops back and clips over his first three of the afternoon. Breathing space for the Saints now.
SAINTS 14 SAR 7

61mins
No sign of Saints looking to protect this lead as Wilson spills from the shear impact of a Manoa tackle. The ball is spun wide inside their own 22 for Collins to stretch his legs again but when it comes back for Myler to kick clear, it’s a poor one and goes out on the full.
SAINTS 14 SAR 7

62mins
Saints now hunting in pairs and it’s Saracens spilling balls in the loose. This one is kicked long by Foden and with his back three buddy Ken chasing hard, Bosch has nowhere to go. Another knock on gives the hosts a 5m scrum platform.
SAINTS 14 SAR 7

64mins
SAINTS TRY!! Saracens strangely leave themselves a man short on the open side of the scrum and though it takes a while to get the ball wide, George is lurking and blasts over for his and the Saints' second.
SAINTS 19 SAR 7

66mins
Manoa splinters three tacklers again and with two of them electing not to roll away it’s a Saints penalty. Autagavaia and McMillan are on for Collins and Haywood. Not a great start for the hooker though, whose first lineout throw goes astray.
SAINTS 19 SAR 7

68mins
Superb from George! The Samoan goes from try scorer to try saver, getting across to cut down Hodgson after a rare mistake from Manoa. The let off is further consolidated when George overthrows a 5m lineout and Myler kicks clear.
SAINTS 19 SAR 7

70mins
Kahn’s had a couple today and now his chief partner in breakdown crime, Clark, has one to his name. Total swing in momentum in the match since half-time, now Saints have 10 to see out.
SAINTS 19 SAR 7

75mins
More spritely stuff from the Saints, Foden making space for himself as he does so well and then involved later in the move to shift it quickly wide for Autagavaia. Sarries scramble well though and the Samoan fumbles. Alex Day replaces Hooley, another who looks to have taken a bang.
SAINTS 19 SAR 7

76mins
They’re singing their team to the final! Over 11,000 at the Gardens today in good voice once more and now there are just four on the clock. Saints have the lead, territory and most importantly of all, the ball.
SAINTS 19 SAR 7

78mins
SAINTS TRY!!!! GEORGE PISI HAT-TRICK!!! Done and dusted. Another irresistible maul from the Saints, Day trucks it up and Fotuali'i pops it to his fellow countryman, who has been simply unstoppable this afternoon. Sandy Park here we come!!
SAINTS 24 SAR 7

78mins
Myler converts as George is named LV= Man of the Match.
SAINTS 26 SAR 7

79mins
This will be the last play, Hodgson putting Saracens into the corner as the visitors look for any form of consolation.
SAINTS 26 SAR 7

FT
Saints are into the LV= Cup final!
SAINTS 26 SAR 7

FT
It’s a third LV= Cup final in five years for the Saints. A brilliant second half performance spearheaded by George Pisi’s hat-trick and a muscular forwards performance. Bath play Exeter tomorrow lunchtime to decide their opponents.
SAINTS 26 SAR 7

TIMELINE
5mins SAINTS Pen Hooley 3-0
9mins SAINTS Pen Hooley 6-0
20mins SAR Try Ransom Con Spencer 6-7
32mins SAR Miss pen Spencer
HALF-TIME SAINTS 6 SAR 7
53mins SAINTS Try G Pisi 11-7
59mins SAINTS DG Myler 14-7
64mins SAINTS Try G Pisi 19-7
78mins SAINTS Try G Pisi Con Myler 26-7
FULL-TIME SAINTS 26 SAR 7

SAINTS: Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, Stephenson, Collins; Hooley, Fotuali’i; E Waller, Haywood, Mercey, Craig, Day, Nutley, Dowson (capt), Dickinson

Reps: McMillan, A Waller, Denman, Manoa, Clark, A Day, Myler, Autagavaia

SARACENS: Ransom; Tagicakibau, Streather, Bosch, Wilson; Mordt (capt), Spencer; Barrington, George, du Plessis, Sheriff, Botha, Melck, Hankin, Wray

Reps: Saunders, Gill, Johnson, Smith, de Jager, de Kock, Hodgson, Wyles

LV= Man of the Match: George Pisi

Referee: Leighton Hodges

Att: 11,062

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