Saracens keep their dream alive
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Saracens kept alive their play-off chances with an emphatic 62-14 demolition of fellow Premiership outfit Northampton Saints.
Saracens showed their attacking flair in full flow as they ran in seven tries in a bonus-point win on Alex Goode's 250th appearance.
Their fate when it comes to making the quarterfinals remain in the hands of others.
The first-half was a close affair in the opening 20 minutes, Cobus Reinach and Nafi Tuitavake scoring tries which twice gave Saints the lead but Sarries hit back with scores from Mako Vunipola, Alex Goode, Marcelo Bosch, Nathan Earle and Vincent Koch to make the score at the interval a convincing 36-14.
Saracens were in complete control during the second period and scored tries through Sean Maitland and Tonga international debutant, Sione Vailanu who scored with his first touch after coming on at No.8.
The win places the home side second in Pool Two after the Pool Stage and Clermont's 24-7 win over Ospreys, leaving them to find out their fate with teams still to play to decide which three of the five runners-up will go through.
Northampton opened the scoring in the sixth minute, Cobus Reinach bursting through a gap before touching down under the posts. Harry Mallinder landed the conversion to establish an early seven-point lead.
Owen Farrell kicked the hosts' first points of the game in the ninth minute, scoring a penalty from 25 metres.
Saracens took a 10-7 lead after 14 minutes, great pressure from the attack kept Northampton pegged back in their own '22. Maro Itoje took the ball to within metres of the line before Vunipola snuck round the corner to score below the posts. Farrell converted.
The visitors scored their second try in the 17th minute Tuitavake capitalised on a messy spell of play to create a gap and drive through for another try under the posts before Mallinder converted to establish a four-point lead for Saints.
Sarries struck back three minutes later, a bizarre forward pass in the corner from Ben Foden afforded Sarries a scrum deep in Saints territory. The ball was worked across the back-line all the way to Goode, who scored on his 250th appearance in the corner. Farrell's conversion made the score 17-14.
Saracens scored their third try in the 29th minute, great work across the back-line set-up a sumptuous dummy from Farrell who burst forward before finding Bosch in clear air to score and make the score 22-14.
Saracens secured the bonus-point after 34 minutes with a sensational try. Earle broke forward before moving the ball on to Wigglesworth for a great score before Farrell added the extras.
The Men in Black secured a fifth try before the interval, Koch crossing the whitewash following powerful work from the forwards to score under the posts. Farrell's conversion with the last action of the half made the half-time score 36-14.
The first points of the second-half came through Farrell, who kicked a penalty from 30 metres to take the Saracens lead up to 25-points. He added a second penalty of the half in the 50th minute, taking the score to 42-14.
In the 54th minute, Maitland raced away in the corner to score the home side's sixth try of the game and make the score 49-14 after Farrell's brilliant conversion from out-wide on the right-wing.
Saracens scored their seventh try in the 63rd minute, debutant Vailanu scored with his first touch of the ball in a Saracens shirt, picking the ball from the back of the scrum and powering through the defenders to score. Farrell converted, making the score 56-14.
Farrell added two late penalties in the 69th and 74th minutes to make the final-score 62-14.
Tries: Vunipola, Goode, Bosch, Wigglesworth, Koch, Maitland, Vailanu
Cons: Farrell 6
Pens: Farrell 5
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Reinach, Tuitavake
Cons: Mallinder 2
Yellow card: Jamie Gibson (Northampton Saints, 40)
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Sean Maitland.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Harry Mallinder, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Mitch Eadie, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Paul Hill, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 George North.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Alexandre Ruiz (France), Thomas Charabas (France)
TMO: Phillippe Bonhoure (France)