Saracens' resilience delights Earl
REPORT: Saracens captain Ben Earl hailed his side’s character after they staged a remarkable rally to beat Northampton 45-39 on Sunday and preserve their unbeaten start to the English Premiership season.
The north London club appeared destined for a first defeat following eight straight league wins when falling behind 39-17 to visitors Northampton after only 52 minutes.
Saracens lost several players due to injury in the course of the game, including England back Max Malins and three front-row forwards yet still managed to come back to beat the Saints and move 15 points clear at the top of the table.
“Everything seemed to be against us and to get the win was a testament to our resilience and team spirit,” said Earl.
“We rolled with the punches in the middle 40 of the game and then managed to dig ourselves out in the last 20 [minutes].”
Scotland’s Sean Maitland scored two tries for Saracens, while Gareth Simpson, Josh Hallett, Earl and England’s Elliot Daly also crossing, with Alex Goode kicking a penalty and five conversions and Alex Lozowski adding a conversion of his own.
Fraser Dingwall scored a hat-trick of tries for Saints, with Mike Haywood and Courtney Skosan also going over. Finn Smith landed four conversions and two penalties.
Saracens coach Joe Shaw hailed the performance of back-row Earl, capped 13 times by England but not currently a member of Eddie Jones’ squad for the Autumn Nations Series.
“He’s such a bright star and a fantastic performer.
“We have given him the captaincy in the last two or three weeks and he’s thrived on it and grown in stature even more.”
Shaw added: “The key feature is that you never ever stop fighting or believing as, even with four minutes left, we still believed.
“Behind the posts after 56 minutes and 22 points down, we stressed there’s still so much time to play and as a result, we go and score 28 unanswered points.”
Northampton boss Phil Dowson struggled to contain his disappointment, with the Saints supremo saying: “It’s very hard to sum up without using expletives as we were very good and then very poor.
“It’s as disappointing as I’ve been since I’ve been coaching, especially when we manage to lose all the momentum we had in that game.”
Tries: Maitland 2, Simpson, Hallett, Earl, Daly
Cons: Goode 5, Lozowski
For Northampton Saints
Tries: Haywood, Dingwall 3, Skosan
Cons: Smith 4
Pens: Smith 2
Saracens: 15 Max Malins, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Alex Lozowski, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Ben Earl (captain), 6 Andy Christie, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 4 Callum Hunter-Hill, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Theo Dan, 1 Robin Hislop.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 James Flynn, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Ollie Stonham, 20 Hugh Tizard, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Josh Hallett, 23 Tom Howe.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Fraser Dingwall (captain), 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Sam Graham, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Alex Moon, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Kayde Sylvester, 21 Tom James, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 James Ramm.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Nick Wood, Phil Watters
TMO: Claire Hodnett