Premiership: Saracens 12-18 Northampton – Saints hold on to deny Sarries top spot- QHN

George Furbank
George Furbank’s break teed up the first Saints try
Saracens: (0) 12
Tries: Parton, Lewington Cons: Manu Vunipola
Northampton: (6) 18
Tries: Sleightholme, Mitchell Cons: Smith Pens: Smith 2

Saracens missed the chance to go top of the Premiership as Northampton secured an 18-12 win at the StoneX Stadium.

Sarries were kept scoreless in a cagey first half, with both defences on top, as two Fin Smith penalties gave Saints the half-time lead.

Ollie Sleightholme crossed for the first try after 52 minutes, but Tom Parton quickly cut the gap to 13-5.

But Alex Mitchell took Saints 13 points clear and they held out under huge pressure, despite Alex Lewington’s try.

Defeat for the top two, following Sale’s defeat by Quins on Friday, further squeezed together the top half of the table – with the top six now separated by a mere four points.

A fifth win in six for Saints moves them within two points of leaders Sale in fifth, while Sarries – who had scored 127 points in their previous three matches – slip to fourth.

Owen Farrell, who this week announced he will miss the Six Nations for mental health reasons, was ruled out with a knock picked up against Bristol last week, and the defending Premiership champions were unable to impose themselves.

Smith slid a penalty attempt wide, but then broke the deadlock in the 18th minute after Saints forced their way into the Saracens 22 – where the hosts went off their feet.

In a tight first half, where the ball spent more than its fair share of time heading skywards, Smith then booted Northampton 6-0 ahead after Ethan Waller won a scrum penalty.

Sarries responded with their first concerted spell of pressure, sending two penalties to the corner, but the Saints defence – disciplined throughout the first 40 – refused to budge an inch.

Alex Parton
Alex Parton dived over for Saracens’ first try

Saints looked to have wasted a huge opportunity for the first try when they spurned a three-on-one from George Furbank’s break but, from the very next phase, Fraser Dingwall executed a perfect crossfield kick for Sleightholme to dot down.

An angry Saracens soon responded, Maro Itoje twice going close against a besieged Saints defence before Manu Vunipola’s long throw out to the left allowed the unmarked Parton to cross.

Sarries began to squeeze as mistakes began creeping into the tiring Saints game, but Northampton served up the decisive score, Mitchell finishing off a two-on-one following Angus Scott-Young’s break.

The two-score cushion lasted just six minutes as Alex Goode’s nicely weighted grubber kick put Lewington in the corner, and a clutch conversion from Farrell’s replacement Manu Vunipola brought the Sarries to within six points.

Northampton had six long minutes to survive, but summoned up their earlier defensive heroics to earn their first Premiership win at the StoneX since 2019.

Saracens: West, Dan, Clarey, Itoje (capt), McFarland, Gonzalez, Christie, Vunipola, van Zyl, Vunipola, Parton, Tompkins, Cinti, Maitland, Goode.

Replacements: George, Vunipola, Judge, Tizard, Knight, Davies, Hartley, Lewington.

Northampton: Furbank (capt), Seabrook, Freeman, Dingwall, Sleightholme, Smith, James, Waller, Matavesi, Davison, Munga, Coles, Lawes, Pearson, Graham.

Replacements: Langdon, Waller, Mills, Mayanavanua, Scott-Young, Mitchell, Litchfield, Hendy.

Referee: Christophe Ridley.

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