Slick Saints sweep Sarries aside
November 26, 2011
Slick Saints sweep Sarries aside%]
Northampton Saints handed Saracens their first defeat since the opening day of the season by routing the reigning Aviva Premiership champions 30-8 at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday evening.
The pumped-up Saints did all of their damage in the first half, racking up tries from scrum-half Lee Dickson, centre George Pisi and flanker Phil Dowson as they raced into a 27-3 half-time lead, a penalty from Owen Farrell all the overwhelmed visiting side could muster by way of a response.
Northampton managed to add just three points to their tally in the second period, courtesy of a penalty from fly-half Ryan Lamb, who ended with 15 points to his name, but it mattered not as the outcome of the game had long since been beyond doubt by the time Sarries No.8 Ernst Joubert dotted in the closing seconds.
An impressive Saints performance snapped a run of two straight defeats, and the hosts will have been disappointed not to take a bonus point such was their dominance. Yet it was Saracens who could have taken the lead as early as the third minute, a pass from Alex Goode sending David Strettle on a 40-metre run but the wing was hauled down short of the line.
The visitors continued to hold their own in the early play but it was the Saints who opened the scoring in the ninth minute. Ben Foden began the move by beating two players in his own 22 and it ended with Dickson crashing over for a try which Lamb converted.
Sarries No.8 Ernst Joubert is hit hard by Saints fly-half Ryan Lamb during the game at Franklin's Gardens © Getty Images
Saracens got on the scoresheet when Farrell kicked a 30-metre penalty, although that was soon nullified by one from Lamb.
Saints then produced another movement of excellent quality with Dickson, Roger Wilson and Chris Ashton combining, and but for a wayward pass by Lamb, Northampton would have extended their lead.
Saints collected their second try after 20 minutes when Pisi burst through some weak tackling to run 30 metres and score a try which Lamb converted. Farrell missed a penalty before Lamb fired over a 30-metre drop goal to give his side a healthy 20-3 lead.
Ferocious tackling from the hosts prevented the Saracens from building up any momentum and it was no surprise when Northampton extended their lead, Dowson driving over and Lamb converting.
Saracens' woes continued after the break when Lamb kicked his second penalty after 55 minutes. Northampton relaxed by taking off star players Dickson, Lamb and Courtney Lawes, allowing Sarries to make it more of an even contest.
The visitors could have had some reward for their efforts but chose not to take kickable penalties in favour of more attacking options. Apart from one powerful burst from John Smit they never looked like scoring a try until the last movement of the game when Joubert crossed following a strong run from Chris Wyles.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland