Saracens 42 Northampton Saints 38: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

The most enjoyable defeat in Saints history?

By Tom Vickers
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 12:00 pm
Tommy Freeman scored during the first half for Saints
Tommy Freeman scored during the first half for Saints

Maybe not for the players - they are competitive animals after all - but perhaps for the fans, who have seen their side take another two strides towards securing a place in the play-off semi-finals.

Saints showed incredible character in both halves as they bagged not only a losing bonus point but also a try bonus point at the sun-drenched StoneX Stadium on Saturday evening.

They were even ahead at half-time, having displayed a huge amount of steel to repel Saracens despite having been reduced to 13 men following yellow cards for Alex Coles and Lewis Ludlam.

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The start to the second half was of the nightmare variety as Saracens flew out of the blocks and scored three tries in the space of just 10 minutes.

Two further scores took the game away from Saints but their spirit remained.

And, somehow, they salvaged two points with another thrilling late show, capped by Matt Proctor’s sensational acrobatic finish in the corner from the final play of the game.

It almost felt like a win for the Saints onlookers who saw their side move two points clear of Gloucester ahead of the final-day fixture at home to Newcastle.

Gloucester, who let a 24-7 half-time lead slip as they lost 28-24 to Harlequins earlier in the day, now know that they must win at home to Saracens on June 4 and hope Saints lose to the Falcons.

Chris Boyd’s side are certainly in pole position, and that is thanks to the bucketload of character they have shown not just on Saturday but during the past couple of months.

They have become the Gallagher Premiership’s great entertainers - a side who never know when to give up and who can score tries for fun, no matter how the game is going.

They have bagged a try bonus point from each of their past six league games - taking 27 points from a possible 30 during that time.

They have scored at least three tries in each of their past nine league matches and they have really reignited the excitement in rugby for their fans.

The fact they were still hugely disappointed after Saturday’s defeat shows how far they have come.

They have lofty ambitions and they still have a chance of achieving them this season.

To do that, they will need three performances packed with character, substance and style.

But as Saracens showed on Saturday, the obstacles that lie in their path will be extremely difficult to overcome.

There is still plenty of work to do be done, but for now, supporters can just bask in the fact that this team, this wonderfully entertaining team, remain in control of their own destiny ahead of the season finale.

How they rated…

GEORGE FURBANKMade a couple of really good recovery tackles and also provided an eye-catching assist for Rory Hutchinson's try... 7.5

TOMMY FREEMANThe youngster showed his class yet again, scoring one and setting up another as he kept Saracens on their toes... 7.5

MATT PROCTORKept going right to the end, producing a spectacular finish, and he always seemed to be able to make some metres with his determination coming to the fore... 7.5

FRASER DINGWALLLooked frustrated as he came off with Saints having shipped a few tries, but the centre didn't do much wrong overall... 6

COURTNALL SKOSANSaints will be happy to have the wing back, but Saracens gave him no opportunities to showcase his finishing ability... 6

DAN BIGGARSome really nice moments in this showing from the fly-half, including a lovely kick pass that led to a try and a tidy inside pass that opened the door for another... 7

ALEX MITCHELLTheo McFarland proved to be this man's nemesis as the Saracens back row forward charged down a box kick to score and then intercepted a pass to grab a second... 5.5

MANNY IYOGUNWas extremely strong during the first half, helping 13-man Saints to survive before Saracens started to take control in the second period... 6.5

MIKE HAYWOODA couple of key moments in the first half for the hooker, who won a penalty and then provided a fantastic flat pass for Tommy Freeman to score from... 7

EHREN PAINTERWhat a boost for Saints to have this man back in action after injury, and he certainly held his own in the first half... 6

ALEX COLESWould have rued the decision that cost him a yellow card but showed plenty of determination when on the field, making some big carries... 6

API RATUNIYARAWAThe lock looked hungry for action, constantly carrying into traffic before being replaced when Saracens got on top... 6

COURTNEY LAWESMade some really important interventions during the first half but was given a breather when Saracens took control after half-time... 7

AARON HINKLEYWas one of the stars of the first half, showing his immense promise once again. Has signed until the end of the season - Saints must keep him for much longer than that... 7.5

LEWIS LUDLAMFound himself on the wrong side of the referee on the first half, but the yellow card he picked up seemed very harsh... 6.5

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

PAUL HILL (for Painter 45)Saints will be pleased that this man has overcome the injury that forced him off against Harlequins, and he had a part to play here... 6

SAM MATAVESI (for Haywood 47)His fast feet kept Saints moving forward late on and he certainly made a good impact here... 6

ALEX WALLER (for Iyogun 53)Made one really good break that led to a try for Saints, and he looks to be hitting some decent form... 7

RORY HUTCHINSON (for Skosan 56)Was able to score with his first touch, finishing off some fine work from Furbank, and he always looked to create when he got the chance... 6.5

CHRON STAR MAN - Theo McFarland (Saracens)