After a busy week I’m writing this just before the Saracens v Quins match at Wembley – so this one will be more Phlog than Blog.
Having watched a good win for Saracens at Bath, albeit on the TV and a poor performance by Saints at Wasps I was expecting a home win in the quarter final of the Champions Cup at Allianz Park.
I think it would be fair to say that the first half saw not only an error strewn and ill-disciplined half from Saracens but also a Saints performance full of determination and guts after a tough day at the office in Coventry.
Owen Farrell had put the home team ahead with a penalty afer 6 minutes but a fine Ken Pisi try duly converted by Stephen Myler followed by a Saints penalty saw Saints strethc their lead. A 2nd Farrell penalty saw the teams go in at half time with the score on Saracens 6 Saints 10. It had felt as if that gap should have been wider in favour of Northampton.
I always wonder if there’s a bit of yelling in a changing room when teams have performed badly in the first half. If that is the case I do believe it may have happened in the home dressing room. Yet Saracens didn’t pull ahead until the last quarter of the match.
Farrell and Myler exchanged penalties in the 51st and 55th minute. There was still a considerable amount of teeth gnashing and nail biting going on amongst the Saracens fans.
A superbly worked try scored by Chris Ashton saw the home team take the lead on 67 minutes. One of the facets of Ashton’s game that few who don’t watch him week in week out is his awareness and positional play. He made a great run from his win across the pitch to run in and score at speed.
We saw a fairly major Ash Splash – and goodness I have mixed feelings about the dive, I understand Ashton’s been doing it for years – but wow I can see him dropping the ball one day!
Farrell missed the conversion but scored 2 further penalties extending the lead. Utility back Chris Wyles who seems to perform wherever he’s asked to play scored Saracens’ second try, with Farrell adding the extras.
With the game out of reach for the visitors they didn’t give up and scored a good try through Courtney Lawes as the time was running out, the Myler conversion saw the final score at Saracens 29 Northampton Saints 20. Saints showed true character to battle on and make the score a better representation of the match.
And so Saracens march on into an all English semi-final against Wasps – they cannot afford poor rugby against the men in black and yellow!
I was thrilled to be dwarfed by these 2! In my Orrell shirt – so pleased they both resisted the urge to rest their elbows on my head!