Saints return to pole position


Published: Sunday 23rd November 2014 by The News Editor

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Northampton stunned Saracens 31-24 at rain-soaked Allianz Park to go top of the Aviva Premiership.

Exeter had briefly held top spot for 24 hours after their 31-15 win over Wasps – but Jim Mallinder’s men regain their place at the summit after Sunday’s win in London.

Tries from James Wilson (two) and Phil Dowson secured the victory while fly half Stephen Myler kicked 16 points.

Jackson Wray and Chris Wyles (two) crossed the line for Saracens while Charlie Hodgson added nine points from the boot.

Saracens were able to call upon the services of England number eight Billy Vunipola after the powerful backrower was left out of Stuart Lancaster’s squad for the clash with Samoa on Saturday night.

Northampton, despite missing a host of stars away on international duty including Tom Wood, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and George North, were able to name a powerful starting line-up including England centre Luther Burrell and Samu Manoa at number eight.

Burrell made his presence felt immediately when he burst onto Myler’s perfectly timed pass and sent winger Wilson into the corner for a stunning opening try. Myler fired over the touchline conversion to cap off a dream start after just two minutes of play.

Saints winger Jamie Elliott struggled to deal with Alex Goode’s grubber kick and when Manoa pounced on the loose ball from an offside position, referee Matthew Carley awarded Sarries a penalty. Hodgson duly obliged to get his team on the board.

Myler increased Northampton’s lead when lock Alistair Hargreaves was penalised for not rolling away at ruck time.

Saints were causing the Saracens pack all kinds of trouble around the fringes, with the backrow trio of Calum Clark, Dowson and Manoa proving a handful with ball in hand.

Wilson got in for his second try in the 14th minute when the Kiwi raced onto Lee Dickson’s perfectly judged kick to touch down in the same corner. Myler again converted from the touchline as Saints raced out to a 17-3 lead.

Saints prop Salesi Ma’afu was causing loosehead Rhys Gill big problems at scrum time and when the Saracens pack buckled under pressure, scrum-half Ben Spencer fumbled under pressure from Dickson and Dowson was on hand to pick up and crash over for Northampton’s third try of the half.

Although Myler was unable to make it a hat-trick of touchline conversions, it mattered little as Saints increased their lead to 18 points

Another Myler three-pointer moved Saints out to 25-3 after another huge scrum from the dominant Saints pack.

After a first half dominated completely by Jim Mallinder’s men, Wray gave Saracens a glimmer of hope when he crashed over from a surging Sarries maul just before the break.

Huge carries from Vunipola and Gill forced another Saracens penalty and Hodgson made no mistake from the tee to make it 25-11 in the 50th minute.

Myler’s third penalty of the afternoon kept the Saints out of reach before Wyles crashed over after Saints prop Alex Waller had been sent to the sin bin.

Wyles crossed again with 10 minutes remaining as the home side’s second half resurgence continued.

Myler kicked a penalty in the 76th minute to make the result safe before Hodgson landed a last-minute penalty to salvage a bonus point.

Published: Sunday 23rd November 2014 by The News Editor

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