Super Saints turn on the style as they see off Saracens at sold-out Gardens

Saints delivered a five-star showing as they claimed a huge 41-30 win against Saracens at a sold-out cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night.
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In a special match played in a special atmosphere, the black, green and gold grabbed five tries, with James Ramm doubling up and Alex Coles, Tommy Freeman and Ollie Sleigtholme also dotting down.

Saracens had threatened a comeback after pulling back from 17-0 down to trail by just four points, but Saints kept their composure and turned on the style to pick up a maximum haul.

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It was a brilliant way to bounce back from the sobering defeat at Bristol Bears seven days earlier and it helped Phil Dowson's men to stretch their lead at the top of the Gallagher Premiership table.

Saints had plenty to celebrate at the Gardens (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Saints had plenty to celebrate at the Gardens (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Saints had plenty to celebrate at the Gardens (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Saracens had come into the match on a huge high after humbling Harlequins at the Tottenham Hostpur Stadium on the previous weekend.

But they were left stunned by a flying start from Saints, who piled the pressure on before Fin Smith released Coles with a lovely little pass, allowing the lock to gallop over the line.

Smith converted and the noise levels at the Gardens were sky high as the home fans enjoyed their side's early intent.

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Saints were looking sharp, and Ollie Sleightholme was like a knife through butter when he cut Saracens open before being stopped just short. But Ramm picked up the loose ball and etched his name on the scoresheet.

After a lengthy TMO review to check the grounding, Smith converted again.

Saints continued to add to their tally as Smith slotted a penalty won at the scrum, but Saracens immediately hit back with a real sucker punch.

Tom James saw his attempted clearance charged down by Theo McFarland, who gathered and scored.

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Owen Farrell converted to cut the gap to 10 points and it was soon seven as Farrell notched a penalty, given for Burger Odendaal coming in at the side.

Saints were starting to become submerged as Saracens' kicking penned them in time.

And just when it looked like the scores would soon be level, Saints produced a huge period of defence on their own line, forcing a knock on from Nick Tompkins.

Saints won a penalty at the resulting scrum and eventually managed to boot the ball out to preserve their seven-point lead at the break.

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But Farrell soon cut that to four after Courtney Lawes was penalised at the breakdown, with the home fans far from happy with the decision from referee Luke Pearce.

Saints responded well though as James took a quick tap penalty and put Saracens under real pressure before the black, green and gold moved the ball in fine fashion for Ramm to cruise over for his second try of the night.

Smith converted and he soon added a penalty to make it 26-13 before Saints held out inside their own 22.

Smith tried an ambitious drop goal after Saints mounted an attack in the away half, but it was never close.

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Saracens then landed another sucker punch as they were given a huge helping hand by Saints again.

Curtis Langdon scrambled to get back but when Ramm tried to clear, he was charged down by Ben Earl, who gathered and scored.

Farrell converted and both sides continued to turn to their benches to keep the energy levels high in a frantic encounter.

Saracens were down to 14 men when Alex Lewington was punished for a deliberate knock-on as Saints tried to move the ball right.

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And Saints took immediate advantage, kicking the ball to the corner before producing a lovely, flowing move from which Freeman bagged the bonus-point try.

Smith converted and the Saints were now starting to build momentum again.

After Saracens failed to find a way through, the home side pounced in superb style as Fraser Dingwall grabbed possession close to halfway and gave the ball to Sleightholme to race away and score.

Smith converted before Lewington returned from the sin bin for the final eight minutes of the match.

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Saracens tried to salvage something from the game but Saints delivered some huge defence before Smith was sent to the sin bin with two minutes to go.

Lewington went over with 40 seconds to go as a kick found him out wide.

And there was still time for Saracens to salvage a try bonus point as Lewington again went over following a fast break down the left.

But it was Saints who were celebrating at the final whistle as they savoured a special night in front of their fans.

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Saints: Ramm (Litchfield 75); Freeman, Odendaal, Dingwall; Sleightholme, F Smith, James (McParland 76); Iyogun (A Waller 47), Langdon (S Matavesi 60), Davison (Prowse 70); Moon (Mayanavanua 61), Coles; Lawes (c) (Ludlam 57), Pearson, Augustus (Graham 47).

Saracens: Daly (Goode 60); Maitland, Cinti, Tompkins, Lewington; Farrell (c) (Simpson 70), van Zyl; M Vunipola (Mawi 49), George (Dan (49), Riccioni (Judge 70); McFarland, Isiekwe; Gonzalez (Earl 39), Christie, B Vunipola (Willis 57).

Referee: Luke Pearce

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