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Northampton Saints end Sarries' winning streak

PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Northampton ended Saracens’ five-match winning streak as Phil Dowson’s men secured a gritty 18-12 Premiership win in London on Saturday.


The Saints enjoyed the better of the first period, showing real defensive resilience as they headed in at half-time 6-0 up thanks to two Fin Smith penalties.

Tries from Ollie Sleightholme and Alex Mitchell made sure of the victory, despite Saracens threatening a late fightback when Alex Lewington crossed over with seven minutes to go.

Both teams had gone into the game without key players, with Saracens missing Owen Farrell due to a knee injury just days after he announced a break from international rugby while Lewis Ludlam was out for Saints with an ankle problem.

It was Northampton who started on the front foot, but they missed the chance to go ahead when Smith sent his penalty attempt wide from distance.

However, Smith made amends soon after as the visitors continued their determined start to the match. Smith then doubled the lead with another penalty – this time earned at the scrum – and Northampton were continuing to get chances to apply pressure in the home half.

But Saracens did not look in danger of conceding a try and they had chances of their own to turn the screw before the break, kicking two penalties to the corner.


Northampton were proving a hard nut to crack though and they forced a knock-on before turning over a home maul. It meant the Saints could go in at the break with a slender lead.

The away side brought on Temo Mayanavanua for his debut at the interval, the Fiji lock taking the place of Chunya Munga, who had failed a head injury assessment.

Saracens sent on some reinforcements of their own early in the second half, replacing their entire front row, meaning Jamie George and Mako Vunipola were among those introduced.

But Saints were still showing real energy and after George Furbank led a breakaway, the men in white kept their composure, with Fraser Dingwall’s crossfield kick finding Sleightholme, who gathered and scored.


Smith added the extras to make it 13-0, but Saracens responded quickly, setting up camp in the Saints’ 22 and with Alex Coles down injured, Manu Vunipola’s excellent pass found Tom Parton in space to dive over.

Coles had to be helped from the field before Manu Vunipola hit the left post with his conversion attempt. Northampton responded with a sucker-punch score, with Angus Scott-Young leading a break before finding Mitchell, who finished in fine fashion.

Smith saw his conversion come back off the left post, leaving the gap at 13 points and Saracens were threatening to make Northampton pay for that miss when Lewington latched onto a grubber kick to score, with Manu Vunipola cutting the gap to six points with the conversion.

Northampton held their nerve, going through the phases in the final stages to make sure of a crucial away win.

*In Saturday’s other matches, Bristol ended their run of five Premiership defeats by thumping Gloucester 51-26 in a one-sided West Country derby.

And a resurgent Bath proved too powerful for West Country rivals Exeter, pulling away to score six tries in a 41-24 win over the Chiefs in front of another sell-out crowd at The Rec.

No.8 Alfie Barbeary had his best game so far in Bath colours with two tries as they leapfrogged Exeter into the top four. Other home tries came from Cameron Redpath, Ben Spencer, Joe Cokanasiga and Will Butt, with Finn Russell adding four conversions and a penalty.

Meanwhile, the Bears led 41-7 early in the second half before relaxing to allow Gloucester a hint of respectability, but they were comfortably outplayed for most of the match.

The scores and scorers:

Bristol Bears 51-26 Gloucester

The scorers:

For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Malins, Genge, Randall 2, Harding, Batley, Thacker
Cons: Sheedy 4, Williams
Pens: Sheedy, Williams

For Gloucester:
Tries: Rees-Zammit 2, Ford-Robinson 2
Cons: Carreras 3


Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Gabriel Ibitoye, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Rich Lane, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Fitz Harding (captain), 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Joe Batley, 4 James Dun, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 George Kloska, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 James Williams, 23 Kalaveti Ravouvou.

Gloucester: 15 Lloyd Evans, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Max Llewellyn, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Santi Carreras, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Jack Clement, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Arthur Clark, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Santi Socino, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Micky Young, 22 Louis Hillman-Cooper, 23 Josh Hathaway.

Referee: Jake Makepeace
Assistant Referees: Harry Walbaum, Paul Dix
TMO: David Rose

Bath 41-24 Exeter Chiefs

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Barbeary 2, Redpath, Spencer, Cokanasiga, Butt
Cons: Russell 4
Pen: Russell

For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Slade, Townsend, Painter
Cons: Slade 3
Pen: Slade

Yellow card: Stu Townsend (Exeter, 60′)


Bath: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Max Ojomoh, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Will Muir, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Alfie Barbeary, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Miles Reid, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Archie Griffin, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Sam Harris, 23 Will Butt.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Tommy Wyatt, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Ben Hammersley, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Stu Townsend, 8 Greg Fisilau, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Lewis Pearson, 4 Dafydd Jenkins (captain), 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Nika Abuladze.
Replacements: 16 Max Norey, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Rusi Tuima, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Niall Armstrong, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Rory O’Loughlin.

Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: John Meredith, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Dean Richards

Saracens 12-18 Northampton Saints

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Parton, Lewington
Con: Vunipola

For Northampton:
Tries: Sleightholme, Mitchell
Con: Smith
Pens: Smith 2


Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Tom Parton, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Andy Christie, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Theo McFarland, 4 Maro Itoje (captain), 3 Alec Clarey, 2 Theo Dan, 1 Tom West.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George,17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Christian Judge,19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Toby Knight, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Olly Hartley, 23 Alex Lewington.

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank (captain), 14 Tom Seabrook, 13 Tommy Freeman, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Tom James, 8 Sam Graham, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alex Coles, 4 Chunya Munga, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Tom Litchfield, 23 George Hendy.

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson, Greg Macdonald
TMO: Rowan Kitt

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