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Saracens 42-38 Northampton: Hosts record seventh successive win to book home Premiership semi-final

Saracens 42-38 Northampton: Hosts record seventh straight win to book Premiership semi-final at home, but Saints pick up two bonus points to boost play-off hopes

  • Saracens ran in five tries to secure a Gallagher Premiership play-off at home
  • The Saints looked dead and buried trailing 42-17 going into the final 10 minutes.
  • But a try brace by Tom James and Matt Proctor secured two bonus points.
  • Northampton can seal a play-off place by beating Newcastle in a week on Saturday

Saracens scored 19 points in eight second-half minutes against Northampton to secure a Gallagher Premiership play-off at home, but Chris Boyd’s Saints remain favorites to claim the remaining play-off spot ahead of Gloucester.

The Saints looked dead and buried 42-17 down in the final 10 minutes, but a brace from replacement Tom James and Matt Proctor’s attempt on the final play of the game meant they earned two losing bonus points.

“To get a semi-final at home is a huge achievement,” Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said. ‘Scoring the tries we did was good, but to be honest I’m a bit disappointed with the last 15 minutes. We don’t want to be a team that sends that many attempts at the end of a game.

Saracens secured a Premiership semi-final at home with a victory over Northampton on Saturday

Saracens secured a Premiership semi-final at home with a victory over Northampton on Saturday

Sarries dominated the first half but went into the break one point behind. Owen Farrell kicked three penalties as the hosts started well.

But with their backs against the wall, Northampton’s defense was immense, even with Alex Coles and Lewis Ludlam spending 10 minutes in the sin bin. Tommy Freeman’s superb line allowed him to cross for the first down.

Saracens delivered a knockout blow as play resumed. Nick Tompkins, Alex Lewington and Theo McFarland crossed in quick succession before Northampton’s replacement Rory Hutchinson returned one.

Matt Proctor's try with the final play of the game meant that Northampton earned two losing bonus points.

Matt Proctor’s try with the final play of the game meant that Northampton earned two losing bonus points.

Then came the attempt of the day. McFarland intercepted, ran 60 meters and acrobatically finished in the corner. The only embarrassment was that he pulled his hamstring doing it. Alex Goode crossed for Sarries’ fifth, but Northampton refused to go. James’ double was enhanced by Proctor in an impressive triple save.

A home win against Newcastle a week on Saturday will officially seal a place in the play-offs.

Director of rugby Boyd said: ‘We showed great courage and resilience to stay there in the first half. Now we are just concentrating on Newcastle, but we know that the semi-finals will not be like the last 15 minutes. It will be much more complicated.

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