Northampton Saints 13 Saracens 63: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

The lack of boos at the final whistle at Franklin's Gardens said it all.

Sunday, 8th April 2018, 2:51 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th April 2018, 2:56 pm
Saints were left stunned by Saracens once again (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Apathy had replaced anger among the smattering of supporters who saw the game through to the bitter end.

And many others were doing their best disappointed face in their car well before Saints' crash against Saracens reached its welcome conclusion.

Yet again, this Northampton team had produced a collapse akin to the England batting line-up of years gone by.

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George North didn't get too many chances to put pressure on Saracens

Yet again, the badge was tarnished by an abject display.

Not during the first half. No, Saints actually pushed Saracens all the way for 40 minutes.

But they must have been handed sleeping tablets during the break because they simply didn't wake up for the entirety of the second period.

They lost the final 37 minutes of the match 48-0.

Saracens won the aerial battle

It must surely go down as the worst half in Northampton history as blow after blow was struck after Saints were floored by Ben Spencer's score three minutes into the second half.

Saracens were afforded the freedom of Northampton as the ball kept coming back to them and they kept finding acres of space to run into as they ran riot.

It was a display that may have sparked a chorus of jeers many months ago.

But now there is simply a sad acceptance.

George North didn't get too many chances to put pressure on Saracens

A sad acceptance that Saracens will steamroller Saints at will.

And a sad acceptance that this Saints squad simply does not have the capability to stop the rot.

Instead, score after score comes with no response.

It has happened four times against Saracens this season, with the Barnet-based team racking up 55, 57, 62 and 63 points in chronological order against Saints.

Saracens won the aerial battle

But it has also happened against Harlequins, Ospreys and Sale to name but a few.

This is not a problem exclusive to games against Saracens, who have scored 33 tries and 237 points in four games against Saints.

This is a deep-rooted problem.

Saints need a mindset transplant and they are desperately hoping the arrival of Chris Boyd will bring the surgery required.

They have shown flashes of ability during this stuttering season.

There is no doubt that these players have talent, as they showed in games against Clermont Auvergne and Exeter Chiefs earlier this year.

But their character has been called into question far too often during a torrid, tortuous campaign that needs to end quickly.

London Irish secured a bonus-point success at equally beleaguered Quins on Saturday, cutting the gap between Saints and the relegation spot to 10 points.

Some fans left Franklin's Gardens fearing that a season in the second tier could still beckon for their sorry side.

But when you cast an eye over Irish's final three fixtures, it will still take a miracle for them to survive as they have to host Exeter and Saracens before travelling to Bath.

And to ask a team that have only won three league games all season to win all of those matches is surely too big an ask.

But if Saints, as expected, survive this season, they can't claim any credit of their own.

They can simply be thankful that there was a side worse than them during the campaign as a whole.

In terms of points conceded though, there is no Premiership team worse than Saints.

They have shipped an eye-watering 564 points, which is 38 more than the next worst, Worcester Warriors.

They have a points difference of minus 143 and have won just six of their 19 league matches to date.

And it won't get any easier during the remainder of the month with ominous trips to Leicester Tigers and Wasps to come.

Saints can salvage some pride by showing some against Leicester.

But whether they can do that remains in real doubt, especially as the Tigers go into Saturday's game on the back of five successive wins.

Saints go into it after five successive defeats so it looks like the points will only be going one way.

The only hope is that the old adage of form going out of the window on derby day can ring true.

But there is no doubt the prospect of an east midlands encounter will be filling Saints supporters with dread.

They would love to be positive about their side and believe that a first win at Welford Road since 2007 is possible.

But, sadly, this group of players has provided few reasons to look on the bright side this season.

How they rated...


Will feel he could have got a tighter grip on Chris Wyles after hunting down the wing, who wriggled free to score... 2


One drop in attacking territory was punished with ruthless efficiency by Saracens and he was shackled well throughout... 2


Never stopped trying, but he and his team-mates were chasing shadows for the final 40 minutes... 4


Wasn't able to have an influence on the game as Saints were placed firmly on the back foot... 2


The Wales wing tried to busy himself but not for the first time during his Saints career, he didn't have much to work with going forward... 3


Kicked well during the first half and also produced a couple of nice passes, but had no possession after half-time... 4


Could have done more to stop Ben Spencer scoring just after the break and didn't have any ball to work with after the break... 2


Always tries to use his physicality to put opposition teams under pressure, but Saracens stood up to him and it was a long afternoon... 2


The young hooker put in plenty of work and grabbed a try on his first Premiership start, but it was never going to be enough once Saracens got going... 5


The prop carried well during the first period but he had no opportunities to use his force after the break... 2


Gave away far too many penalties on the day as referee Craig Maxwell-Keys punished him time and again... 2


Nothing the experienced campaigner could do to stop the rout and this isn't the way he would want to be spending the late stages of his career... 3


Suffered an early injury and in the end, he might have been glad he didn't have to ensure the second-half shocker... 5


Always gives his all, but was battling against a relentless tide on this occasion as the Saints back row was put under immense pressure... 3


Missed a glorious chance to open the scoring for Saints and though he put in plenty of effort, Saracens were too strong... 3

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

BEN NUTLEY (for Ribbans 21)

Provided energy after coming off the bench, but things turned sour after the break and he was powerless to prevent the Saracens surge... 2

ALEX MITCHELL (for Reinach 56)

A really tough game for the youngster to come into as Saracens were firmly in control and running riot when he arrived... 2

CHRON STAR MAN - Owen Farrell (Saracens)