Results between these 2 teams had been mixed this season to say there least. The October game was a Premiership Rugby Cup game, the first Premeirship match an absolute thriller, Saracens scored a 1st minute penalty then were behind until the 77th minute, scoring 4 tries in the last 20 minutes. One of several ‘daylight robbery’ matches at Stonex this season, Saracens sent a young team to Northampton in April, with their ~England players taking their rest.

  • 13th November 2022 – Saracens 45 Northampton Saints 39
  • 15th April 2023 Northampton Saints 38 – Saracens 29
  • 5th October 2022 – Northampton Saints 58 Saracens 34

This match, the semi-final was the big match of the season between 2 old foes. Saints finished 4th with 11 wins, a positive points difference of 9 and 58 points to their name and Saracens topped the table with 15 wins, a points difference of 109 and 74 points, Saints scored 84 tries and Saracens 78, the 2 highest in the league. Saints conceded 86 and Saracens 64; only Newcastle Falcons conceded more than Saints and only Sale Sharks conceded fewer than Saracens.

Several Saracens were playing their last hime game, with Jackson Wray being the most high profile, he’ll be sorely missed. Duncan Taylor is another long term player who played his last home game. Saints Second Rower David Ribbans is heading to France and Wing Tom Collins to London Irish. Ribbans will be a big loss for both Saints and England if they stick to their ruling of not picking players who move abroad.

1 5 tackles for Jackson Wray in his final home game, he has always given his all for his team!

The game was less than a minute old before we had an incident that could have changed the way the game progressed; Sean Maitland, as yet not re-signed, for next season went for a high ball with George Furbank coming the other way, the incident was in front of where I was sitting and I thought Maitland lucky to get away with simply conceding a penalty. His elbow went into Furbank’s face, a red wouldn’t have been outrageous, but a rugby collision was the verdict from the officials.

Saints dropped the ball from what was a promising attack and that set Saracens off from behind their own posts, the ball went through several sets of hands before Alex Lozowski took the final pass from Max Malins, the ball was ultimately lost and a penalty conceded allowing Saints to clear their lines.

The first try of the match went to Sean Maitland after a neat kick through by Alex Goode (who has just re-signed for 2 years), the run in was a simple one for the winger as was the conversion.

Congratulations for Sean Maitland whose future at the club is uncertain

Alex Mitchell won a clever penalty for his team when he passed the ball into Hugh Tizzard who was taking too long to get away from the ruck, Fin Smith slotted the ball over the posts. A word for Mitchell; I’d really like to see him picked for England, he’s a clever, speedy scrum half!

Dingwall mis-judged a kick from within his own half, the surface at the Stone X stadium tends to send a ball long if you don’t get it right and that is just what happened, that gave Saracens a scrum deep in the Saints half. However, Tizzard was penalised as Saracens attacked, rather than presenting the ball, he held one of the Saints players in, giving possession back to Saints.

The most bizarre thing happened on 12 minutes, Owen Farrell put in a massive, textbook tackle on Rory Hutchinson, that isn’t the bizarre thing, the praise from Lawrence Dallaglio was the weird thing! He struggles to hide his dislike for all things Saracens as a rule.

As well as being a Mitchell fan I’ll also sing the praises of Fin Smith and was just doing so to my neighbour when he missed touch with a penalty, something of a schoolboy error that.

An odd penalty against Courtney Lawes, who went over the top of a ruck, gave Saracens a line out close to the Saints line, Saracens rolled forwards with the Forwards in possession before Ivan Van Zyltook the ball, he passed to Farrell who put a lovely kick through for Maitlandf to score. An exquisite try according to Dallaglio, with World Class play. The kick from the side line was good and Saracens had an 11 point lead.

Fin Smith wasn’t the only 10 who made an error, Farrell sent a horrible pass across his own goal posts, happily picked up by Mako Vunipola before it was cleared. Saints had an attacking opportunity but the Saracens defence was up to all that was thrown at them. Ribbans gave away a penalty as Saracens started on their way back, taking Saracens back into Saints territory.

Farrell saw the funny side of his error

Was it the scrum half in the referee Karl Dickson that allowed van Zyl to take a quick tap after Alex Waller gave away a silly penalty, van Zyl ran in to score Saracens; 3rd try. The TV commentary are pointing out the error of Waller in simply dropping the ball and allowing the scrum half to pick the ball up and go. Clever from the Saracens 9 to see the opportunity and take it.

Ben Earl, has been immense this season, he could easily have been Man of the Match in every game he played in, he won a brilliant penalty just after 30 minutes, getting over the ball strongly, his skills will surely be recognised by Steve Borthwick . He’s involved in so many turnovers and penalties in each and every game. He also made 22 tackles in this game, more than any other player, although Maro Itoje wasn’t far behind with 21. The highest tackle count for Saints was 12, for both Smith and Dingwall. The possession and territory stats make for interesting reading; Saints had 61 % possession and 65 % territory.

Action photos from the first half

The teams went in at half time with the score on Saracens 21 Northampton Saints 3, it was good to see Farrell and Mitchell chatting as the teams left the pitch.

Saracens had the first scoring opportunity of the second half with a Farrell penalty to stretch their lead to 21. Farrell made a 2nd error 53 minutes in, kicking the ball off the end of the pitch from within his own half, it was good to see a wry smile on his face as he did so, he was enjoying this semi-final.

James Ramm scored a try for Saints at last on 64 minutes with a lovely try, the ball passing through several sets of hands, with Smith looping round to take a return pass why that wasn’t called magical by the commentary team I can only think it’s because he’s the wrong Smith. He missed the conversion but the gap had closed to 9.

James Ramm making his mark

Another collision going for a high ball saw Malins and Tom Collins hit heads, sadly Collins came off the worse and he had to leave the pitch for an HIA with blood pouring from his head. In the build up to what had been Farrell’s kick across the field Farrell had clearly, on the replay, been in touch. However I presume that wasn’t something the TMO could over-rule, BT showed it enough times. Instead of a line out close to the halfway line there was a scrum near the Saints line.

Elliot Daly had come on for Saracens and he put in a huge kick after a penalty was awarded against Saints. Saracens rolled over the line but the referee believed the ball to be held up. The TMO wanted the set up of the maul checked and that was deemed to be ok, but the check did show Tom James going in at the side, which resulted in a yellow card for James and a penalty try for Saracens. A daft move by a player not long on the pitch.

Ivan Van Zyl left the game on 74 minutes to be replaced by Ruben de Haas, who leaves a the end of the season, he was involved in a lovely try for Max Malins. A player who came through the Saracens Academy is moving on to Bristol Bears permanently next season he finished off his last home game with a try that will get Bears fans excited as he leapt over the line. Farrell added the extras to see the final score of Saracens 38 Northampton Saints 15.

Maro Itoje was given a yellow card as one of the last moments in the game, a deliberate knock on, he took his time to leave and want may have missed theft he was sent to the naughty step. But it had no impact on the game, the Saracens defence was immense right up until the final moments. They will now play Sale Sharks in the Premiership Final on May 27th, so the 2 top teams for the season contest the final, which feels right.

Action photos from the second half

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