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Log-leaders Saints hand Sarries a reality check

PREMIERSHIP FRIDAY WRAP: Northampton Saints showed why they are top of the Premiership table, producing a special performance to beat champions Saracens 41-30.

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Phil Dowson’s men bounced back in brilliant style from their defeat at Bristol Bears, scoring five tries in a sensational showing at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

The Saints flew into a 17-0 lead thanks to early scores from Alex Coles and James Ramm before Saracens threatened a fightback, cutting the gap to seven points at the break after Theo McFarland got them on the board.

However, Northampton turned on the style in the second period as Ramm, Tommy Freeman and Ollie Sleightholme all scored to put the game beyond Saracens despite Ben Earl’s try.

The away side did manage to leave with a point as two late scores from Alex Lewington gave them four tries on the night.

But the game belonged to Northampton, who extended their lead at the top of the Premiership in fine style.

Saints came racing out of the blocks as they piled the pressure on Saracens, eventually going ahead when Fin Smith released Coles for an early score.

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Smith converted, and he was doing so again soon after as the Saints added a second score, with Sleightholme’s stunning run eventually leading to a try for Ramm.

Northampton were calling the tune, even at the scrum, winning a penalty, which Smith slotted from in front of the posts.

But Saracens hit the Saints with a sucker punch when Tom James saw an attempted clearance charged down, allowing McFarland to gather and score.

Owen Farrell converted and soon added a penalty as Northampton saw their lead reduced to seven points in the blink of an eye.

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The away side looked certain to score two minutes before the break but Nick Tompkins knocked on following a huge defensive set from Saints.

The gap remained seven points at the break, but it was down to four early in the second period as Farrell slotted a penalty.

But the Saints came storming back and after a quick tap penalty from James caused real panic, Saracens were opened up as Ramm cruised over for his second try of the night.

Smith converted, but Northampton again shot themselves in the foot as Ramm tried to clear inside his own 22 and Earl charged the kick down before gathering to score.

Farrell converted and the gap was just six points, but Saracens lost Lewington to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Northampton took immediate advantage, producing a flowing move that was finished by Freeman before Sleightholme touched down under the posts to make the game safe.

Smith was sin-binned before Saracens ensured they would leave with something to show for their efforts, Lewington grabbing two tries in the final two minutes to earn his side a losing bonus point.

Meanwhile, Jack van Poortvliet scored on his return to the starting XV as Leicester Tigers beat Newcastle Falcons 19-13 after remarkable late drama at Kingston Park.

The scrumhalf dotted down after Brett Connon had given the hosts an early lead from the tee before Ben Redshaw and Julian Montoya traded tries for each side.

Another Connon penalty restored the Falcons’ narrow lead, but Ollie Hassell-Collins flew down the left wing to hand the Tigers their fourth win in five Premiership games – but not before they had to see out 15 minutes of added time with players in the sin bin.

The men in black are still winless in the league this season, despite taking the lead twice during the course of the night.

See below for Friday’s scores and scorers:

Northampton Saints 41-30 Saracens

For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Coles, Ramm 2, Freeman, Sleightholme
Cons: Smith 5
Pens: Smith 2

For Saracens:
Tries: McFarland, Earl, Lewington 2
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 2

Teams

Northampton: 15 James Ramm, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Tom James, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 5 Alex Coles, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Emmanuel Iyogun
Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Ed Prowse, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Sam Graham, 22 Archie McParland, 23 Tom Litchfield

Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Andy Christie, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Theo McFarland, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Gareth Simpson, 23 Alex Goode

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Joe James, Andrew Jackson
TMO: Ian Tempest

Newcastle Falcons 13-19 Leicester Tigers

The scorers:

For Newcastle Falcons:
Try: Redshaw
Con: Connon
Pens: Connon 2

For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Van Poortvliet, Montoya, Hassell-Collins
Cons: Pollard 2

Teams: 

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Cameron Hutchison, 11 Ben Redshaw, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart, 8 Callum Chick (captain), 7 Sam Cross, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Tim Cardall, 3 Richard Palframan, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Phil Brantingham
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Murray McCallum, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 John Hawkins, 20 John Kelly, 21 Ben Douglas, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 Oliver Spencer

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Josh Bassett, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Solomone Kata, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Olly Cracknell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Kyle Hatherell, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Will Hurd, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Dan Richardson, 19 Finn Carnduff, 20 Emeka Ilione, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Phil Cokanasiga

Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Stuart Terheege

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