Saints start season with Twickenham shocker as Saracens score nine

Lewis Ludlam scored his first Premiership try but Saints were beaten at Twickenham (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Lewis Ludlam scored his first Premiership try but Saints were beaten at Twickenham (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints endured a sobering start to the new season as they shipped nine tries in a 55-24 defeat to Saracens at Twickenham.

Jim Mallinder's men conceded seven before the break as they were left shellshocked by the European champions' surge.

Ahsee Tuala was in action for Saints

Ahsee Tuala was in action for Saints

Sean Maitland grabbed a hat-trick in a 40-minutes that was far too easy for the men in red and black.

Saints could only respond through a Harry Mallinder penalty as individual errors and porous defending cost them dear.

The away side did respond after the break, with Lewis Ludlam scoring a try on his first Premiership start and Tom Wood grabbing a double on his return to action after a six-week ban.

But they were to leave Twickenham without even the consolation of a try bonus point as Saracens shut them out for the final 14 minutes.

Tom Collins was forced off during the second half

Tom Collins was forced off during the second half

And Saints will now have a lot of work to do to rebuild ahead of next Saturday's Franklin's Gardens showdown with local rivals Leicester Tigers.

Mallinder's men had headed to Twickenham in optimistic mood after winning all four of their matches in pre-season.

The early stages were scrappy, with Saracens struggling with their handling, but when they did piece together attacks, Saints failed to clear their lines effectively.

Mallinder ran the ball out of play in his own 22 and Saracens used the possession to turn up the head in the Twickenham sun, with Barritt eventually finding space to score.

But to the surprise of everyone in the ground, Alex Lozowski sent a simple conversion wide of the posts.

Saracens kept coming though and they soon had a second try as Richard Wigglesworth exploited more loose defending to stretch out an arm and score.

Lozowski made no mistake this time and Saints were already staring down the barrel at 12-0 down.

The Saracens intensity levels were striking and they looked set to score on every venture into enemy territory.

And they had their third score in 21 minutes when Sean Maitland found acres of space to dot down in the corner.

Lozowski missed the conversion and Mallinder quickly got his side's first points on the board with a penalty from in front of the posts.

Lozowski had the chance to cancel out Mallinder's penalty with an attempt of his own, but his kick from distance didn't hit the target.

However, the reprieve was only temporary for Saints as Wood missed a tackle out wide and the rest of the defence crumbled, leaving Lozowski to score.

Saracens had their bonus point before the break and Lozowski added insult to injury with the successful conversion.

It had been a sobering half for Saints and there was still time for it to get worse as Saracens broke away and Maitland found the speed to evade David Ribbans to score.

Lozowski missed the conversion, with his inaccuracy the only saving grace of the first 40 minutes for a beleaguered Saints side.

But predominantly it was misery on misery and Maitland was afford the freedom of Twickenham to score his hat-trick after an easy grubber kick found him.

Saints were stunned with no sign of any improvement and after Lozowski again missed a conversion, prop Vincent Koch waltzed through for his side's seventh score.

The extras were added to make it 41-3 at the end of a chastening half for those in Northampton colours.

Saints had the task of restoring pride after the interval and fledgling flanker Ludlam set about doing it as he scored his first Premiership try on his first league start.

Mallinder converted, but Saracens were soon back at the Saints door as the home side broke and hooker Schalk Brits spotted a gap before flying through it to score.

Lozowski converted to make it 48-10 and Saints suffered another blow as Tom Collins, who had been their shining light, was forced off with a calf problem.

Saints were enjoying more territory and possession in the second period and real desire from prop Alex Waller helped to make a try for Wood, who showed great power to finish.

Mallinder converted to again cut the sizeable gap to 31 points at 48-17 and Wood went over again soon after, with Mallinder adding the extras.

But in a game that seemed to go on forever, replacement scrum-half Ben Spencer scored for Saracens with 14 minutes to go, and Lozowski converted, making it 55-24.

That was how it was to end as Saints squandered two late lineouts and failed to get the score that would have at least salvaged a try bonus point.

And there was plenty to ponder for everyone of a Northampton persuasion heading into next weekend's derby date with Tigers.

Saracens: Goode; Maitland (Wyles 46), Taylor, Barritt (c) (Bosch 60), Earle; Lozowski, Wigglesworth (Spencer 66); Barrington (Thompson-Stringer 52), Brits (Spurling 54), Koch (Figallo 52); Day (Rhodes 60), Kruis (Isiekwe 15); Itoje, Burger, Wray.

Saints: Tuala (Grayson 67); Foden, Tuitavake, Burrell, Collins (Pisi 52); Mallinder, Groom (Mitchell 59); Waller (Ma'afu 62), Hartley (c) (Haywood 62), Brookes; Lawes, Day; Wood, Ludlam, Eadie (Gibson 15).

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys