Tag Archives: Northampton Saints

ROUND 20 | PREVIEW | Northampton Saints vs Saracens

By Thomas Branston


Stadium MK (Kick-off 3pm)

Referee: Matthew Carley

Assistant Refs: Wayne Falla, Gareth Copsey

TMO: Graham Hughes


Northampton Saints have narrowly missed out in their last two Aviva Premiership matches very late on against two of their playoff rivals, Leicester and Wasps. Saints have played six previous matches at Stadium MK winning two and losing once in the Premiership.

Saracens only defeat in their last six matches was 10-32 defeat at home to Leicester in the semi-final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 11 March. Sarries have lost three of their last five away games in the Premiership, with defeats to Bath, Worcester and Gloucester.

Saracens have previously played three games in Milton Keynes winning two ‘home’ games when they moved there from Vicarage Road, against Bristol in 2008 and Northampton in 2012, but losing 20-25 there in a Saints “home” game in 2015.

Saracens have the upper hand on the books in this tie with the visitors only losing once  in their last five matches against Northampton in all tournaments was 15-20 at Allianz Park in Premiership in March 2016.

Saracens won a feisty encounter last time out at Allianz Park winning 27-12, in a first-half battle the half-time score was even with both Myler and Lozowski trading three penalties each. Myler added another penalty early on, however a poor half of discipline from Saints allowed Jamie George to cross over and Saracens were later awarded a penalty try from pulling down a maul.


Northampton Saints | 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom; 1 Alex Waller, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 6 Jamie Gibson, 7 Tom Wood (c), 8 Louis Picamoles

Replacements | 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles

Saracens | 15 Alex Goode, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Titi Lamositele, 2 Jamie George (c), 3 Vincent Koch, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 6 Joel Conlon, 7 Schalk Burger, 8 Jackson Wray

Replacements |16 Schalk Brits, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Chris Ashton

Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley Targets Top Six Finish

By Thomas Branston

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England captain Dylan Hartley is targeting a place in the Aviva Premiership top six as the season reaches its final stage.

The 31-year-old believes his side have the quality to achieve their goal, despite Saints suffering a last-gasp defeat at Wasps last weekend and missing out late on against east midlands rivals Leicester Tigers the week before.

However, Saints remain level on points with sixth-placed Harlequins and are just five points behind fourth-placed Leicester Tigers with three games left to play.

Hartley is determined to help his side qualify for next season’s European Champions Cup competition.

He said: “The good thing is we have got a huge carrot dangling in front of us, we have got three games left in the season and, at the moment, a top-six finish is a priority for us.

“We have got all to play for and it’s a good place to be. If we were further down the table, we could just clock off but this is a good place to be, it keeps it competitive and it keeps us working for something.

“It might not be a top-two finish like we would have liked at the start of the year, but we have got something to drive for and that’s top six at the moment.”

Aviva Premiership Round Up

By Thomas Branston

Saracens 40-19 Harlequins

Saracens guaranteed themselves a playoff spot after hammering Harlequins in front of 71,324 at Wembley Stadium. Chris Ashton impressed as he scored his fifth try in three games as Saracens kept the pressure on Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at the top of the table.

Defeat for Quins means they remain five points adrift of the play-off spots in sixth, with fourth-placed Leicester and Bath equal on points.

Bath 27-21 Leicester Tigers

Anthony Watson stole the headlines as he scored two late tries as Bath came from behind to beat Leicester at Twickenham.

In front of almost 62,000 fans, in their ‘home game’, Bath trailed 21-13 with just 14 minutes left but Watson had the final say to help secure victory.

Bath remain fifth, but move level on points with fourth-placed Leicester, with three games left, although the Tigers appear to have the easier run-in.

Wasps 32-30 Northampton Saints

Matt Mullan scored a last-minute try to secure a thrilling victory over Northampton at the Ricoh Arena.

Tries by Ben Foden, Alex Waller and George North put the visitors ahead, and Elliot Daly crossed to keep Wasps in touching distance at half-time. Christian Wade and Joe Simpson went over to give the hosts the lead before Ahsee Tuala and Teimana Harrisson crossed for Saints, but Mullan drove over and Gopperth clinched victory.

Wasps are already assured of a place in the play-offs and remain at the summit of the table. Saints are five points off fourth place but have a difficult run-in.

Exeter Chiefs 38-34 Bristol

Thomas Waldrom scored two second half-tries to ensure that Exeter will play a second consecutive year in the Premiership play-offs with a dramatic victory over relegation-threatened Bristol.

Exeter remain in second-place five points behind Wasps whilst Bristol remain eight points behind Worcester at the bottom of the table.

Newcastle Falcons 16 Gloucester Rugby 14

Newcastle Falcons edged past Gloucester on Friday night with a last-gasp Joel Hodgson penalty kick to secure a dramatic victory.

The sides were tied at 7-7 at half-time after England wing Jonny May cancelled out Juan Pablo Socino’s try. Tom Marshall scored for the visitors in-between two Hodgson penalties, but Hodgson then slotted a third penalty with seconds left to win the game for Newcastle.

Gloucester remain six points adrift of the European rugby places behind Northampton and Harlequins whilst Falcons moved to within a point of Gloucester with the win.

Sale Sharks 36 Worcester Warriors 26

Man of the Match Sam James scored two tries as Sale beat Worcester, who managed to pick up a crucial four-try bonus-point in the battle to avoid Premiership relegation.

James’ brace followed by Mike Haley’s effort just before the break put Sale 21-14 up, with Worcester’s tries coming from Francois Hougaard and Joseph Taufete’e. But second-half Bryon McGuigan and Ben Curry tries ensured victory for Sale.

Worcester move to eight points clear of Bristol in the relegation zone whilst Sale Sharks remain 12 points adrift from the European places.

Wasps beat Northampton Saints in Aviva Premiership thriller at Ricoh Arena

By Thomas Branston

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Wasps drive over the whitewash after a quickly taken penalty as the clock goes dead.

Wasps retain hopes of a home semi-final as they scored late on in a thriller to beat Northampton Saints 32-30 in the Aviva Premiership on Sunday.

Matt Mullan scored the decisive try at the death after Nathan Hughes’ initial battering run from a quickly-taken penalty.

Tries from Ben Foden, Alex Waller and George North gave Northampton a 18-13 half-time lead with Wasps trailing by five points, the hosts did score with Elliot Daly crossing over and Jimmy Gopperth adding eight points from his boot.

Christian Wade and Joe Simpson added crucial scores which was accompanied by Ahsee Tuala and Teimana Harrison scoring to give Saints a five point lead but Mullan got the decisive try with the clock going dead and Gopperth secured victory from his conversion.

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Nic Groom clings on to tackle fellow South African Willie Le Roux.

Both sides went into the match with hopes on the line, for the hosts it was threats of losing a home playoff semi-final and for Northampton it was a last ditch attempt of securing a top four finish.

Saints began the game playing efficient rugby putting Wasps under mass amounts of pressure and were rewarded with a penalty but Stephen Myler drifted his effort wide.

Northampton continued to build and forced Wasps to make numerous mistakes and had the chance to take the lead again with Myler converting this time.

Wasps struggled to contain Saints in the early exchanges and with the hosts making mistake upon mistake, it was Northampton who capitalised with Foden racing clear from a Gopperth pass which was intercepted and Myler missed his kick from the touchline.

But the hosts responded quickly as Daly, who was being watched by Eddie Jones, found a gap and raced through to score and Gopperth added his conversion to cut the visitors lead.

However, Saints responded perfectly with Waller going over in the corner to reassemble the Saints’ lead and Myler again missed his conversion.

Gopperth managed to keep Wasps in the game as he slotted his kick through the posts with ease to reduce the score to three.

And the hosts continued to grow into the game with Wade’s thunderous pace and initiative helping the hosts win another penalty soon after and Gopperth converted an identical kick to his last one to tie the score.

Jim Mallinder’s men quickly rallied together to shock the hosts with a third score as North received the ball out wide to touch down in the corner and Myler missed his third conversion of the game.

Northampton took a 18-13 lead into the break and could have been further ahead but Wasps managed to keep them within touching distance.

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Dai Young’s team talk proved influential as Wasps looked a different side in the early exchanges of the second period.

Wade scoring in the first three minutes to level the scoring, the wing wizard beautifully kicked a chip over the defensive line and collected to score and Gopperth converted to give Wasps the lead for the first time.

Wasps looked back to their best with Kurtley Beale and Le Roux causing havoc, but it was Simpson who stretched over after some good defensive work from Northampton and Gopperth missed his kick.

Saints responded well and added to the try-fest with Tuala going over from a five-metre scrum to earn Northampton the bonus-point and Myler missed his conversion to level the score.

Impressively Northampton quickly scored another with a turnover from a Wasps scrum in their own half.

Saints broke away down the field offloading at will and Api Ratuniyarawa got his pass off to Harrison who made no mistake in crashing his way through to score untouched and Myler converted.

Much to his blushes of dropping the ball over the line from Wasps’ Champions Cup defeat to Leinster last weekend, Le Roux believed he had scored shortly after Saitns had retaken the lead.

But the TMO had deemed that Joe Launchbury had obstructed Luther Burrell from making his way towards the tackle.

A let off for Saints, but Wasps didn’t take their foot off the pedal, they continued to bombard the Northampton 22.

It took until the 80th minute for Wasps to really assert their authority in the Saints 22, and after winning a second penalty in quick succession Jamie Gibson was shown a yellow.

The clock was dead and with a penalty, Hughes had to tap it and go and the number 8 crashed his way up to a metre of crossing the line.

The ball was recycled by the forwards quickly with Mullan crashing over to score with Referee Maxwell-Keys declaring the try much to a crackling roar of the Ricoh crowd.

Gopperth stepped up just 12 metres out to convert the winning points as Wasps secured the win in emphatic fashion.