Saracens 38 Northampton 15: Jackson seals double with demolition of Northampton

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Saracens last night completed a Premiership double over Northampton to climb into fourth place in the table with a four-try demolition of Saints.

Saracens showed far more nous and enterprise, while their opponents were guilty of turning over possession to the home side both at the breakdown and at the line-out on their own throw. They were also outmuscled at the set piece, as Saracens' third try came after a string of five-metre scrums at which Saints either slipped their binding or collapsed it.

Saints had been snarled up in heavy holiday traffic on the way to Vicarage Road and were then run over by Saracens' who, once they had made the breakthrough were rampant.

The England flanker Richard Hill had wisely been given a rest from back row duties and was able to put up his feet, as were the backs Thomas Castaignède and rugby league convert Andy Farrell, and it looked as though the trio were going to be missed in a dull, penalty-ridden opening quarter. Not until the England hooker Steve Thompson threw too long at a Saints' line-out did the match finally come to life.

Saracens' Ireland hooker Shane Byrne scurried around to the tail of the line and snaffled the loose ball on the first bounce and launched the backs. Centre Kevin Sorrell punched through, drawing more cover, before presenting left wing Kameli Ratuvou with a simple run-in.

Glen Jackson's conversion, added to his two previous penalties opened up a gap, but rather than building on that lead the home side allowed themselves to be knocked on to the back foot and Saints, who had spent much of the match thus far struggling to get out of their half, suddenly reversed the roles.

And while they lacked the finishing of Saracens, the pressure they applied forced errors and from the resulting penalties Carlos Spencer knocked over five first-half penalties.

That Saracens went in at the interval ahead by a nose was due to Jackson having landed a third penalty.

The New Zealand-born fly-half then added a try to his points tally early in the second half with a try after he sold a perfect dummy and cut through two defenders. The penalty try followed and then, to the delirious delight of Saracens' supporters, their heavyweight prop Cencus Johnston, a gargantuan Samoan got them the priceless bonus point when he marked his debut with a rumbling try eight minutes after coming on as a replacement.

Saracens: Tries Ratuvou, Jackson, Penalty Try Johnston; Conversions Jackson 3; Penalties Jackson 4. Northampton: Penalties Spencer 5.

Saracens: D Scarbrough; T Vaikona (R Penney, 74), K Sorrell, A Powell, K Ratuvou; G Jackson (T Taylor, 80), N de Kock; N Lloyd, S Byrne, C Visagie (C Johnston, 72), K Chesney, S Raiwalui (capt; T Ryder, 80), P Gustard, D Seymour (B Russell, 72), B Skirving.

Northampton: V Going (P Diggin, 62); S Lamont, S Mallon, R Kydd, M Bourret; C Spencer (J Howard, 72), I Vass; T Smith (S Tonga'Uiha, 66), S Thompson (capt; D Hartley, 66), P Barnard (C Budgen, 61), Damien Browne, M Lord, M Easter, S Harding, Daniel Browne (P Tupai, 62).

Referee: D Pearson (Northumberland).