Thus has been some sporting weekend – my viewing started at 6:30 – AM – on Saturday morning as England’s Red Roses took on the New Zealand’s Black Ferns in the World Cup Final. England went into the game on the back of 30 straight wins, but a red card in the 18th minute made the task too much of an uphill climb, although the result wasn’t sure until the very last play of the game. A quite remarkable feat with 14 players for over 70 minutes. My afternoon involved a trip to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium to watch the Rugby League World Cup semi-final involving England and Samoa. England pretty much didn’t turn up for the majority of the game, yet took things to extra time and the Golden Point. Samoa kicked that Golden Point and will face Australia in the Final at Old Trafford next week. That outing kept me away from all of the rugby union making money internationals, otherwise known as the Autumn Internationals, all 5 were won by the Northern Hemisphere teams, With the result of the day being Italy 28 Australia 27 for me.

Sunday saw England win the Cricket T20 World Cup Final, I have more than a soft spot for their competition Pakistan so was on a win/win situation there. But, I really needed a Saracens win ti take away the ‘pain’ of Saturday’s sports viewing.

This was one of those, losing your international players Premiership matches, the visitors to Stonex, Northampton Saints started the day in 4th place and this match felt like it could be the one that stopped an 8 match winning run for Saracens, and that feeling stayed there for a good 70 minutes if I’m honest. Remembrance Sunday was well observed, with the laying of 2 wreaths, a reading, the last post and a minutes silence before things got underway.

Both teams fielded players with things to prove having either been totally left out by Eddie Jones or returned to their clubs from training. Both teams have a fast and exciting back line, on an initial look Saints appeared to have a considerably bigger pack.

Some of the Saints ‘Big lads”

We had some early pantomime boos when Saints prop Paul Hill having thrown Max Malins boot away then proceeded to kick it further away from him, those were of the panto villain variety, but sadly more of the booing later. Saracens started the scoreboard off with an early penalty after a minute, they wouldn’t take the lead again until the 77th minute.

Finn Smith looks the real deal

Mike Haywood took the lead for Saints with just 4 minutes on the clock, taking the ball back after he’d thrown into the line out after one of what felt like many penalties given away by Saracens in the first half. By the end of the game however Saracens had given away 8 penalties to Saints 12. Finn Smith, newly arrived from Worcester playing in only his 2nd Saints game kicked a great conversion, taking him to 14 from 14 in a recent run.

Mike Haywood scored Saints first try

One of the Saints big lads and a head on the wrong side by Robin Hislop saw him in a state of disarray, he went off for an HIA and didn’t return, it was good to see said big bloke, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto check oh Hislop before he left the pitch. James Flynn entered the fray, for a while.

Saints won a penalty in their first scrum feed, but didn’t need to make use of it as the ball was quickly moved to captain, Fraser Dingwall, he evaded Sean Maitland to score Saints second try. A closer conversion made it 15 on the trot for Finn and 14 points on the board for Saints,

Saints flanker Sam Graham won a penalty for his team in the breakdown, but in an unusual error Finn Smith missed touch, Malins took the ball and made his own error in trying to run the ball out. That error was saved by a high tackle on van Zyl by Dingwall, but along came a 3rd error as Alex Goode missed touch!

We had somer too-ing and fro-ing after that comedy of errors before a lull in play as it looked like Saracens might lose Callum Hunter-Hill, he looked to be in a bad way, but he took to his feet and carried on. Play re-started with a scrum and a perfect pass from Elliot Daly to Maitland on the wing saw him score with 20 minutes on the clock. The replacement prop, Flynn had earlier acted as scrum half, making an excellent pass.. Goode kicked a similarly excellent conversion. Saracens did lose Max Malins at this point, putting Daly to Fullback and Josh Hallett taking his position in the Centres.

2 Tries and an Assist for Sean Maitland who looks back to his best

Goode had an opportunity to talk his team to within one point, but the ball went wide, We had the sight of Ben Earl breaking the line and kicking the ball through for Alex Lewington, sadly it found touch rather than the winger. It then seemed that Earl had scored a try after a strong carry from Hallett, the try was rightly checked then disallowed after the referee asked for clarity. Sean Maitland had run into Salakaia-Loto and was deemed to have opened up the gap for Earl. A first mention for the TMO, it took a stupid amount of time to get the decision made. A plea again to those who boo, please buy yourself a ref link so you can hear the decision making.

Close, but no try this time for Ben Earl

The TMO came into play again moments later after Goode had run into Finn after he kicked the ball, a line out for Saracens turned into 3 points for Saints, cue more booing. (oh for rolling eyes at this point)

Smith showed his skills with ball in hand as his forwards had taken the ball up field, Juan Augustus in particular was like a wrecking ball, Dingwall was on Smith’s shoulder and ran in his 2nd try of the game. I can report more booing here, I can see absolutely no reason for that! The run by Augustus, another ‘big bloke’ saw replacement prop Flynn leave the field for an HIA. That meant uncontested scrums as his replacement Alec Clarey is a Tight Head rather than Loose. That meant Saracens had lost 3 players by the 33rd minute. That HIA was also failed, meaning uncontested scrums for the rest of the match.

A 37th minute penalty for Saints stretched their lead, a 2nd Maitland try on 38 minutes closed the gap again. Andy Christie had shown his backs potential before Theo Dan put in a superb pass to Hallett. Great work from 3 of the home grown Saracens! Another cracking conversion closed the gap to 10 at the break.

A great game for Andy Christie

Saracens lost a 3rd prop when Marco Riccioni left the field with what looked like a nasty leg injury, here’s hoping that’s not a bad one, he’s not long been back after a long lay off after a nasty knee injury. Saracens then had one prop and 2 hookers in the front row for the remainder of the game.

With a 50/22 likely after a kick from Saints, Goode made an error in tipping the ball over the line, Dingwall took receipt of the ball after a lovely pass from both Smith and Tommy Freeman, he scored his hat-trick to take Saints to 32, a 15 point lead. Smith’s kicking record came to s stop with this one as the ball went wide.

Fraser Dingwall with his Hat-Trick try

Bt Sport went to Kelly Brown for comment as Saints scored their 5th try, there seemed to be a Saracens high tackle in the build up, but that was no more than a hand across the neck from van Zyl, so deemed just a penalty. The Saracens scrum half had been cleared out, but it was him who carried on with the movement. Courtnall Skosan who’d had a good game, ran in to score. Regrettably cue more booing. The conversion was good this time and Saints had a lead of 22.

Courtnall Skosan scoring Saints 5th try

Saracens couldn’t bring that back, could they? Things started to turn somewhat when the TMO wanted to check a nasty tackle on Theo Dan, I’m really not sure what the BT people were looking at but Salakaia-Loto’s shoulder went directly into Dan’s neck. It was deemed high danger, but mitigated down to a yellow card as Emmanuel Iyogun was already tackling the Saracens hooker, Ugh Monye was the only one on the commentary team who saw the offence as the officials did.

Minus one of their ‘big blokes’ Saints held up Jackson Wray as Saracens rolled forward from the resulting line out, they then held firm for 6 minutes of the card as the Saracens pack tried to do their thing. They weren’t able to stop Gareth Simpson, on as sub Scrum half howeverThe Saints , Maitland had taken a lovely ‘pass’ from Hugh Tizzard who’d come on at half-time, he virtually handed Maitland the ball. Simpson, another ex Worcester player, was on Maitlands shoulder and he ran in to score, a lovely try on his Saracens home debut. The conversion closed the gap to 15 with 20 minutes remaining.

Welcome to Stonex Gareth Simpson

The Saints flanker Sam Graham will be having a word with his team mates after they dropped him after he’d taken the ball on their line out, how he got straight up I do not know!

Ben Earl made a great break, showing his speed, with a nice little added skip too, the ball got through to Goode who chipped the ball through for Hallett who scored his 2nd Premiership try. The conversion closed the gap to 8, the try had given Saracens they’re 4th try to give the try scoring bonus point. Salakaia-Loto returned after Saracens had put 14 points on the board.

A second Premiership try for Josh Hallett

Another ex Worcester player Tom Howe made his debut on 71 minutes to find himself taking a nasty knock as Tom James went high, it was clear the TMO thought the ‘hit’ deserved a red card. James had also just entered the fray, he maybe had the shortest appearances in a Premier game as the yellow card was brandished.

I am now going to go into a bit of a rant on the TMO/referee interactions, the outcome of this incident was debatable, but either way there was far too much time taken throughout the game. Why the TMO couldn’t say she thought this should be red I do not know! The game cannot afford the time these interactions took, this game lasted just short of 2 hours. The TMO and other officials then failed to realise that Saints had too many players on the pitch, which saw a halt to a promising Saracens attack.

Saracens were now attacking with some intent however and who else but that man Ben Earl to be there to take the ball as it spun out, he ran in to score a true captain’s try! This man is just 24 years old and as well as being a wonderfully skilful rugby player he’s proving to be a brilliant leader. He’s obviously taking that role in Owen Farrell’s absence butI can see him being captain for many years. That try took Saracens within a point, with 6 minutes to go!

Ben Earl gets better every week!

The commentary team had failed to see that Ethan Lewis, A Hooker, was on the pitch as they discussed who’d be throwing into a line out??? I’m re-watching the match and still can’t quite believe this match could be won!

But…… BEN EARL – he broke through the line again, to show his heels, Elliot Daly was on his shoulder and he ran in to score the match winning try! Daly bobbled the ball but held tight and oh my word! Saracens had won the game with a scoreline of Saracens 45 Northampton 39! 2 deserved bonus points for the Saints to take home, they move upon to 3rd but have played 2 more games than Harlequins in 4th.

That winning moment – this was truly a ‘battle’
Alex Mitchell – surely one of the best scrum halves in the Premiership

This was a thrilling game of Premiership Rugby, with some skilful, exciting play from both sides. I hope Saints finish in the Top 4 to go to the play offs, they play a great brand of rugby and as a small aside, Alex Mitchell really should be playing for England (as should Ben Earl). But that is 9 from 9 for Saracens, they have a points difference of 98 and have scored 37 tries. Boring Saracens my Ar*e!


  1. Thanks Debbie. Good round up of a frustrating/exciting game. The club could do worse than fitting a defibrillator to every seat for the rest of the season! It was an endless game with so many injuries and TMO interventions and debates. Really think it should be clearly decided who is leading that process. Ben is on fire and Eddie Jones is squandering his talent but we’d certainly be the losers if he wakes up to the fact. I know we’ve spoken about it before but I also detest the booing. Not appropriate in any circumstances. Really fed up with calling it out. Just wish the Club would call it too. It’s not a good look at all is it? Thank again, Phil Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    • I really enjoyed watching this one back, especially as o could skim past the endless interruptions. I just hope we have a full team to play next weekend, the break from the Prem is coming at just the right time.
      The booing drives me insane, it makes me laugh to see our fellow fans moaning at others then doing it themselves!


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