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Saracens 35 - 46 Saints: Seven-try Saints seal first Cup win

Northampton Saints have their first win in this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup following a try-filled 46-35 victory against old rivals Saracens. 

Twelve tries were scored in total at the StoneX Stadium, where the action only got faster and faster as it progressed, with seven of those coming from a youthful and vibrant Saints side. 

The last of these came from Frankie Sleightholme, who was one of five players to make their debut in north London, along with Joel Matavesi, Luke Frost, Ed Prowse and George Patten. 

There was also two scintillating tries for George Hendy – who continued his prolific start to his Saints career – in a match where the lead switched hands at a dizzying rate. 

Saints got off on the front foot and opened the scoring inside three minutes when Tom James sold a dummy before passing to James Grayson on his shoulder and the fly-half scooted over the whitewash. 

Grayson couldn’t convert in the blustery conditions and the joy of going ahead was tempered by Ollie Newman going off injured before the game could restart. 

That did, however mean an early runout for Patten, a member of the Saints’ Under-18 side that reached the final of the Premiership Academy League this season. 

The lead didn’t last long, sadly, as a clever kick through by Saracens centre Josh Hallett sat up nicely for Rotimi Segun to gather and score in the corner, with Manu Vunipola’s conversion putting the hosts 7-5 ahead. 

Saints were on top at scrum time, however, and this gave Grayson the chance to kick his side back in front, one he took with a well-struck penalty from just over 40 metres out. 

The lead changed hands again just before the half-hour when hooker Kapeli Pifeleti broke off a driving maul that had taken Saracens close to the Saints line and plunged over, with Vunipola converting again. 

The deficit was reduced to one point, however, as Saints scored their second try off the final play of the first half when James took the ball out of the back of a maul and went clear to go over down the short side. 

Grayson’s conversion went wide, meaning Saints trailed 14-13 going into the break, but they hit the front for a third time within three minutes of the restart. 

Just for a moment, it looked as though we would see a first senior try for Geordie Irvine, but after the teenager was stopped just short, Tommy Freeman picked up and drove over for an unconverted try. 

The bonus point was in the bag in the 58th minute as Segun keeping in a miscued box kick from Ruben de Haas worked perfectly for George Hendy, who gathered the loose ball before running in under the posts. 

It was the youngster’s third try in three games in the Premiership Rugby Cup and Grayson’s conversion opened the lead out to 25-14 

The pendulum quickly swung again, however, as Brandon Jackson pulled a try back for Saracens before Segun put them in front with a brilliant individual try that saw him weave through several Saints defenders. 

That did nothing to discourage Saints, however, and they led once more in the 67th minute when Hendy flung the ball left for Grayson, who passed outside for stand-in skipper Piers Francis to slide over. 

Literally straight from the restart, Saints were in for try number six when Hendy gathered and scorched through the hosts’ fractured defence and outpaced Elliott Obatoyinbo for a fantastic score. Grayson’s conversion made it 39-28, if you’re keeping up. 

All hell had broken loose by this point and it was quickly a four-point game again when replacement hooker Ethan Lewis broke off a driving maul to burrow his way over in the 73rd minute.

But Saints could finally rest easy with two minutes left of a manic afternoon when quick hands from Connor Tupai and Grayson allowed Sleightholme to go in at the corner to make it a debut to remember.

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