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SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16 As it happened

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

KO

Nils Mordt leads out Saracens, with GJ Van Velze bringing out the Saints, who line up to play up the hill in the first half. Debutant Will Hooley kicks off and we're underway!

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


2mins

After a Saracens fumble the Saints open up with some good phases just inside the visitors' half, with Kahn Fotuali'i and Will Hooley bringing varied runners into play. But a George Pisi kick ahead goes straight to hand, and in the next attack a turnover nearly gives the visitors a try, only for the final kick ahead to go into touch to allow Saints to clear their lines

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


4mins

Saracens' first attack comes from a lineout 15metres inside Saints' half. But Samu Manoa is in an aggressive mood, and a massive tackle on Matt Hankin sends the ball forward for a home scrum on Saints' 10-metre line. This becomes a penalty and Hooley kicks for touch

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


7mins

It's a good kick and a promising platform for the Saints on the visitors' 22

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


9mins

Again Saints maintain possession patiently, despite Saracens' aggressive multi-man fringe defence. Eventually the visitors come offside in front of the sticks on the 22-metre line. Hooley goes for goal, but hooks the ball left. Mordt drops out

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


10mins

Another couple of let-offs for Saracens there, as two penalties allow Mordt to kick midway into the home half. The first was for Ken Pisi tackling a catcher in mid-air, the second for Fotuali'i tackling his opposite number Ben Spencer high. Some defending to be done here by Saints!

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


11mins

Again the home rearguard holds firm, forcing a fumble and winning a scrum 15 metres inside Saints' half, and 15 metres out from the near touchline

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


13mins

Like last week the Saints pack has started this game strongly in the scrum, winning two penalties from their three scrums. Hooley kicks 20 metres upfield

SAINTS 0 SARACENS 0


14mins

The pack has started well, but this Saints team likes to play, too. Lovely interplay from Fotuali'i, Jamie Elliott and Manoa takes play up the blind side, creating a big overlap on the far side. Hooley and George Pisi put the ball through the hands and James Wilson strolls over. Hooley converts

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 0


18mins

Saints continue looking to play, Elliott making good metres up the near touchline. He's eventually forced into touch, and after an exchange of kicks the crowd is brought into life by a huge Pisi tackle in midfield. Eventually the ball makes its way to Wilson, who kicks intelligently to Saracens' 22-metre line

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 0


20mins

Another good kick, this time from Fotuali'i, pins Saracens back deep into their own half. There's a decent clearance from Spencer, but Saints can still build from a lineout on the visitors' 10-metre line

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 0


22mins

Some of Saints' kicking so far has been magnificent, some kicks have been a bit more on the dodgy side. That chip from Hooley was a good idea but over-done a little, and instead of Saints collecting the ball Saracens get a chance to counterattack. Some last ditch defending thwarts the visitors, who end up with a scrum on Saints' 10-metre line after Fotuali'i's attempted interception goes to ground

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 0


25mins

A lucky break for Saracens there. Michael Tagicakibau came off his wing to good effect, but after the tackle Ben Nutley pounces on the loose ball for what looked like a good turnover. Not according to JP Doyle, however, who rules that Saracens had possession and awards them a scrum

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 0


26mins

The crowd hollers for the ball not being straight, but it's play on again, and when Saracens get a nudge on they are awarded a penalty. Spencer goes for goal and gets his team's first points of the day

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 3


28mins

Having conceded points Saints get a good position straight from the kick-off after Saracens clear midway between the 22 and 10-metre lines. There was a good maul and break, but the defence holds play up to win a scrum. Rhys Gill won't be playing any part in it, having finally succumbed to injury to be replaced by Richard Barrington

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 3


30mins

So close for Saints! Ken Pisi makes a good break coming off his wing, and after the ball is retained the Samoan pops up on the far side to barrel his way to the line. He reaches over but the ball goes forward for a Saracens scrum

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 3


32mins

Saints are conceding too many penalties at the moment, firstly at the five-metre scrum, then when GJ Van Velze tackles a man without the ball. Saracens play off the lineout and send a kick through, but George Pisi and Wilson between them fail to control the ball and the visitors recover. Tim Streather sends play wide, and although the scramble defence holds Fotuali'i is sent to the sin bin for knocking the ball out deliberately. Saracens go for touch, but again the defence holds for a Saints scrum five metres out from their own line

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 3


35mins

Try for Saracens. The visitors get the nudge on, the ball squirts out of the side of the scrum and Spencer beats Wilson - covering for Fotuali'i - to the touch down. The scrum-half converts to give Saracens the lead for the first time

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


37mins

It is a big few minutes for Saints, who are still a man down. But they get a bit of a lucky break when a Hooley kick ahead rebounds off Marcelo Bosch into touch for a home lineout five metres inside Saracens' half

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


38mins

An early tackle in the air wins a penalty, and Hooley kicks to 10 metres out from the visitors' line. The maul comes down, but play goes on, and while Saints maintain possession play stops when an ambitious George Pisi pass goes forward on its way to the unmarked wide men outside. It's an interesting call, but it's a scrum nonetheless

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


40mins

Lovely work from Nutley wins the ball back from Saracens number eight Justin Melck, but although Hooley and George Pisi continue to show good awareness in their distribution there is no payoff in the end as Saracens' defence holds to win a penalty. The ball goes into touch and the half ends

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


HT

That was a frustrating half for Saints, who started strongly, not least in the scrum. They thoroughly deserved their lead and were playing some lovely rugby. But Saracens have fought back, not least in the set piece, where Richard Barrington coming on for Rhys Gill seems to have been crucial. There are still a few minutes to play without Kahn Fotuali'i, and plenty of rugby to be played after the break in the hunt for the home LV= Cup semi-final!

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


41mins

One change for Saracens, Sam Stanley on for Streather. Saints are unchanged. Mordt kicks off, with Saints playing from left to right down the hill

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


42mins

Saracens get a couple of good opportunities to build pressure from lineouts inside the home half. The first is on the 22, but is overthrown, the second is further out, but is fumbled, and Fotuali'i returns to the action to put the ball into a Saints scrum

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


44mins

The scrum-half's return prompts Saints into some good action, with kicks from Van Velze and Ken Pisi putting Ben Ransom under pressure and winning a lineout 15 metres out from the visitors' line

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


45mins

The maul is patient, but so is Saracens' defence, and Saints work their way across the field before the ball is fumbled for a scrum to the visitors

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


47mins

The scrum is solid from both teams and Mordt clears to the 10-metre line. Mike Haywood's throw is won, but sailed well towards his own line to give Saracens the scrum. This time they try to play, only for Spencer to fumble at a ruck to give Saints a put-in five metres inside the visitors' half

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


49mins

This time it's the hosts who are frustrated by poor handling, Haywood putting the ball to the deck on the far side in the middle of some promising build-up. This game has gone decidedly flat, and needs a spark to bring it to life. It's not happening at the scrum, where an early engagement gives Saracens a free kick and Spencer the chance to send a kick to the air

SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10


51mins

There's plenty of effort and attempted imagination this afternoon, but the execution just hasn't been up to the ideas. That's until Wilson picks up a chip to spin out of the attempted tackle, and after play goes up the far side Manoa goes straight over Ransom to dive over the whitewash. Hooley's conversion is on target but gets held up in the wind. Still, Saints have the lead once again

SAINTS 12 SARACENS 10


55mins

That try was exactly what this game needed, as was Hooley's cracking pickup which allowed Ken Pisi to put a good kick ahead to put Ransom under pressure again. The clearance kick goes straight back to Hooley, who finds Manoa with a long pass. With players out wide this a great chance for another attack, only for Dom Waldouck's pass to Haywood to go forward

SAINTS 12 SARACENS 10


58mins

Saracens have the scrum, but Nutley again wins a turnover to give Saints a good opportunity. Saracens come over the top of a ruck, and even though he's kicking into the wind Hooley sends the ball between the sticks to extend the lead by three

SAINTS 15 SARACENS 10


59mins

Saints retain possession from the kick off, but Saracens' defence is still aggressive, winning a penalty for Spencer to answer Hooley immediately

SAINTS 15 SARACENS 13


61mins

This contest is still finely poised, and hopefully that rare mistake from Elliott isn't going to be crucial. The winger is normally so good under the high ball, but that one carried in the wind a bit and rebounded into touch. Fortunately Saracens can't make the most of it and put the ball into touch

SAINTS 15 SARACENS 13


64mins

Stephen Myler comes on for Hooley, who's played pretty well on his first team debut. Myler joins Christian Day, Matt Williams, Adam Parkins and Fa'atoina Autagavaia as second half replacements

SAINTS 15 SARACENS 13


65mins

A contentious decision gives Saracens a lineout just inside Saints' 22. Elliott is ruled to have tackled a man without a ball, who in turn looked to have been obstructing the winger. No matter, play goes on and despite Saints' defence forcing the visitors back they come over the top and Spencer re-takes the lead. Ross McMillan comes on for Haywood

SAINTS 15 SARACENS 16


68mins

There's still everything to play for in this game, but a couple of penalties conceded at successive breakdowns allow Myler to kick Saints into a decent position, smack bang on the visitors' 22

SAINTS 15 SARACENS 16


70mins

Manoa's strength takes him over the line for his second score of the afternoon, rewarding some patient build-up play. The crucial pass came from Myler, who went behind the dummy runners to create the overlap. The conversion attempt is not quite so good, probably the least clean that the fly half has hit this year, but Saints have still taken the lead once again

SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16


74mins

This time it's Saints who get a lucky break, Mordt sending the kick off straight into touch. Myler sends play to the 22, and then when Saracens infringe at a breakdown the ball goes to the corner

SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16


75mins

One try there and that would have been that, but the maul fragments and Fotuali'i's attempted drop goal falls short. Saracens try to play from their own line, but it's a risky strategy and following an exchange of kicks a forward pass gives Saints a scrum on the visitors' 22-metre line

SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16


78mins

Saints get a great shove on, but try to spin it wide, only to concede a penalty. Again Saracens try to play from deep, but great defence wins a penalty. A late sack in the maul gives another penalty and Saints have a lineout five metres out

SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16


80mins

Saints concede a couple of penalties close to the visitors' line which spoils any chance of a bonus point, but while Saracens try to play from deep for what would have been a winning try the defence holds and the hosts go home with the win

SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16


FT

That game showcased the depth of both squads, and sets things up nicely for a likely re-match in the LV= Cup semi-finals at the Gardens. Saints certainly deserved the win. as did Samu Manoa for his Travis Perkins man of the match award. But it's going to be a tough afternoon in March, and ticket details will be announced in due course!

SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16


TRAVIS PERKINS MAN OF THE MATCH Samu MANOA


TEAMS

SAINTS Wilson; Elliott, G Pisi, Waldouck, K Pisi; Hooley, Fotuali'i; E Waller, Haywood, Denman, Verbakel, Manoa, Harrison, Nutley, Van Velze (capt)


Reps - McMillan, Warren, Parkins, C Day, Williams, A Day, Myler, Autagavaia


SARACENS Ransom; Wilson, Streather, Bosch, Tagicakibau; Mordt (capt), Spencer; Gill, Saunders, Du Plessis, Smith, Sheriff, De Jager, Hankin, Melck


Reps - Spurling, Barrington, Lamositele, Botha, Burger, Maplesden, Stanley, Jubb


REFEREE JP Doyle


TIMELINE

8mins SAINTS Miss pen Hooley

14mins SAINTS Try Wilson Con Hooley 7-0

26mins SARACENS Pen Spencer 7-3

32mins SAINTS Yellow card Fotuali'i

34mins SARACENS Try Spencer Con Spencer 7-10

HALF-TIME SAINTS 7 SARACENS 10

53mins SAINTS Try Manoa 12-10

58mins SAINTS Pen Hooley 15-10

60mins SARACENS Pen Spencer 15-13

66mins SARACENS Pen Spencer 15-16

70mins SAINTS Try Manoa 20-16

76mins SAINTS Miss DG Fotuali'i

FULL-TIME SAINTS 20 SARACENS 16