Northampton Saints were beaten at home by Saracens in their first clash of 2022, as the London side pulled away in the second 40 minutes to earn a Gallagher Premiership victory.
Two penalties apiece from Dan Biggar and Alex Lozowski saw the scores deadlocked after a first-half which Saints edged in possession and territory, in front of an almost sold-out cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
But Saracens edged clear after the break, with tries for Lozowski and then Tom Woolstencroft putting the contest beyond Northampton, before Maro Itoje stretched over late on to put some gloss on the scoreline.
In torrential rain to start the contest, Lozowski struck an early penalty through the uprights for Saracens after Saints were penalised at scrum time, but Biggar responded with a three-pointer of his own with eight minutes played as the visitors were penalised at the breakdown.
George Furbank then made a break to take Northampton into the 22, but Elliot Daly beat both Fraser Dingwall and Ollie Sleightholme to Rory Hutchinson’s grubber-kick through to snuff out the opportunity.
Saints had penalty advantage and opted to kick to the corner, but their maul effort was stopped short and Sarries cleared their lines.
Biggar thought he had scored a few minutes later after a scrum penalty against the head went for the hosts, but the fly-half’s quick tap-and-go was deemed to be away from the mark by referee Adam Leal.
Lozowski missed a shot at goal after 23 minutes as Northampton were penalised for playing the scrum-half, but the centre made up for the miss from the tee just a minute later with Hutchinson deemed to have obstructed Nick Tompkins to make it 6-3.
A series of infringements by the visitors however took Saints right into the 22, and while Saracens were placed on a warning by the referee, Northampton – after turning down a couple of shots at goal – saw a scrum penalty go against them.
Four minutes before the break, Biggar did level the scores at 6-6 with a penalty just outside the 22 after yet another scrum penalty was called against Saracens.
A 50-22 kick early in the second-half from Alex Goode put Saracens on the front foot, and the No.10 was at the centre of the action again on 44 minutes as his offload released Lozowski, who raced over the whitewash before converting his own score.
Lozowski took his personal tally to 16 points with another penalty just before the hour mark as Sleightholme was penalised just outside the 22, but inaccuracy inside their opponents’ half continued to frustrate Northampton as a couple of chances went begging to knock-ons.
Replacement Conor Carey was sent to the sin bin for the final ten minutes of the contest after conceding a couple of penalties in quick succession, and Saracens immediately made their man advantage count as Woolstencroft went over at the back of a maul.
The yellow was costly for Saints as the injured Paul Hill could not return to the field to replace Carey, meaning the next scrum went uncontested and Northampton were down to 13 men for the remainder of the match.
Saracens built the phases again as the time ticked down and Itoje eventually reached out to dot down and round off a frustrating afternoon for the men in Black, Green and Gold – who drop to sixth in the Gallagher Premiership and face Newcastle Falcons away from home next weekend.