Sarries hammer poor Saints
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Holders Saracens kicked off their European Champions Cup campaign in style with eight tries in a 57-13 thrashing of Northampton on Sunday at Franklin's Gardens.
The two-time defending champions' display was reminiscent of the one that saw them thrash Saints 55-24 at Twickenham on the opening day of the Premiership season.
A Liam Williams double and Brad Barritt's score helped Sarries storm into a 19-point lead early on, before former Northampton flank Calum Clark sealed a bonus point before half-time.
It took Saracens less than four minutes of the second half to score a fifth try through Vincent Koch, before Mako Vunipola, Alex Lozowski and Ben Spencer crossed as Northampton were outscored eight tries to one, despite Mike Haywood's consolation.
Hooker Jamie George also totally outplayed opposite number Dylan Hartley in front of England coach Eddie Jones, as Saracens notched their biggest ever away win in Europe, which was Northampton's heaviest home defeat.
They go top of a perilous-looking Pool Two ahead of Clermont, after the French side grabbed an impressive 26-21 victory at Ospreys.
Northampton forged ahead with an early penalty from Stephen Myler, but Saracens showed their class with a wonderful score.
Fast hands across the back line opened up the home team's defence, as an incisive pass from Owen Farrell was flicked on by American international Chris Wyles to send Williams over in the corner.
England international Farrell made no mistake with the conversion, before slotting over a penalty to make it 10-3.
A driving maul from a five-metre line-out ended with centre Barritt bundling over, with Farrell making his second tricky conversion look simple.
Northampton's first half went from bad to worse when British and Irish Lions winger George North was forced off with what looked to be a knee injury.
The visitors showed no mercy though, as Williams bagged his second try by running onto Marcelo Bosch's pass, before bouncing off two tackles and touching down in the corner.
A big hit by Farrell on Ben Foden caused a scuffle that finally sparked the home crowd into life and Myler, making his first start of the season, kicked his second penalty.
But the one-way traffic continued as Northampton lost David Ribbans to the sin bin and Clark touched down against his former club, with Farrell duly making it 29-6 at the break.
With the hosts still down to 14 at the start of the second period, Farrell's break created a simple try for Koch, with the creator kicking his fourth conversion.
England prop Mako Vunipola powered through with 20 minutes left and Lozowski ran clear to score under the posts.
Haywood finally gave the home fans something to cheer, but Northampton's misery was compounded as Spencer cleverly dived behind a Northampton ruck on the Saints tryline to get a hand on the ball and score an opportunistic eighth try.
Farrell converted once more to finish with 17 points.
Pens: Myler 2
Tries: Williams 2, Barritt, Clark, Koch, Vunipola, Lozowski, Spencer
Cons: Farrell 7
Yellow card: David Ribbans (Saints, 40 - cynical play, offside)
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 George North, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Tom Collins.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)