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SARACENS 24 SAINTS 31 Early onslaught sets Saints on the way to Saracens win

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Having conceded scores early at the Gardens in Round 7, the Saints got off to a perfect start in a rain-lashed Barnet.


After a few initial phases to explore how Saracens were set up in defence, Myler split the line with a short pass to Luther Burrell, whose power and pace took him deep into home territory. If this was good, it was surpassed with the pass that followed, which put James Wilson away and over in the corner.


The second was just as skilful. From a lineout the pack drove infield a couple of times, creating an overlap down a 15-metre blindside. Lee Dickson spotted Chris Ashton up in the line and the space behind, and slid through a delicate grubber for Wilson to latch on to.


Dickson was also at the heart of try number three, putting in a thumping tackle on Billy Vunipola at a scrum close to Saracens’ line. The ball came loose and was pounced on by Phil Dowson, again in the left corner.


With Myler adding two conversions and a penalty Saints were 22-3 up and in dreamland, and director of rugby Jim Mallinder acknowledged the importance of getting out of the blocks early.


“You have to get your game plan right when you play Saracens, and I thought we were very, very good in the first 25 minutes,” he told BBC Radio Northampton. “We didn’t play well in the first half last week, but we improved in the second half and we continued that today.”


But Saracens had also had the last say of the half when Jackson Wray finished off a maul with a try, and the hosts would also have a strong wind behind them in the second half.


The Men in Black also had a strong bench, and its impact paid dividends immediately. Juan Figallo had struggled against Alex Waller throughout the first half, but the introduction of James Johnston at tight-head prop solidified the scrum massively, giving Saracens the platform they had lacked in the opening 40 minutes.


But while Saracens were getting on the front foot the only reward they got in the third quarter was a Charlie Hodgson penalty, nullified by Myler just before the hour. A yellow card for Waller seemed to swing the balance of play completely though, with Chris Wyles scoring twice, both in the right corner.


“Sarries are a good team and it’s all about momentum,” Mallinder added. “There are always parts in the game where you’re going to be on the back foot and under some pressure. They scored a couple of tries while Alex Waller was in the sin bin, and that made things difficult.


“But we stuck at it. There were one or two things we could have done smarter, but we defended with our lives and everybody put in some really good effort. It was enough to see us home.”


Saracens may have added 10 points with Waller in sin bin, but Hodgson’s two misses - from almost identical places to where Myler had been successful in the first half - meant that the pressure was just that little bit less than had they gone over, and with the Northampton man landing his fourth penalty four minutes from time Saints had the win sealed and delivered.


Re-live the action from Barnet as it happened at www.saintslive.co.uk


TIMELINE

2mins SAINTS Try Wilson Con Myler 0-7

7mins SARACENS Pen Hodgson 3-7

11mins SAINTS Pen Myler 3-10

13mins SAINTS Try Wilson Con Myler 3-17

22mins SAINTS Try Dowson 3-22

31mins SAINTS Pen Myler 3-25

39mins SARACENS Try Wray 8-25

HALF-TIME SARACENS 8 SAINTS 25

48mins SARACENS Pen Hodgson 11-25

59mins SAINTS Pen Myler 11-28

62mins SAINTS Yellow card A Waller

64mins SARACENS Try Wyles 16-28

69mins SARACENS Try Wyles 21-28

75mins SAINTS Pen Myler 21-31

79mins SARACENS Pen Hodgson 24-31

FULL-TIME SARACENS 24 SAINTS 31