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News: (F) Saracens vs Saints - Saints Away (S)trip

By SaintED
September 28 2015

Whilst many eyes were on the Rugby World Cup at the weekend, Saturday saw Northampton Saints turn out for the first time in the new term, travelling down to Allianz Park to face Saracens in a pre-season friendly. SaintED (Martin to his mates), took in all the action...







Northampton's Away (S)trip


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

On mine eyes you no longer grate.

With your skies of blue and grey,

This first win your colours commemorate.


With apologies to Will.


You can plan for all sorts of eventualities when going to the rugby. For the missed travel connections, for losing your tickets, for going to the wrong venue, for the peckishness that you get during the halves and most importantly for the weather. So it is always a joy to stow your gloves and waterproof under your seat and sit back and watch the rugby on a truly glorious day. In block 5 of the east stand bang on the halfway line I found myself in an almost perfect position. Bathed in sunlight, tantalised by the waft of the burger van upwind, a pint of beer in my hand and a view onto a field of green, black and gold Saints support in the west stand.    

Northampton came with a plan too. With a starting XV not far off the level you'd expect to see in an Aviva Premiership game from the outset they looked to control the set piece, run forwards round the corner and move the ball when the spaces came … and they did. In contrast Saracens seemed determined to put the ball up in the air, a ploy that worked to a degree but missing the accuracy of the first team was a less successful overall.

Some strong direct carrying from a scrum in Saints half then quick hands and a crisp pass from Dickson for a step inside and great finish from Packman started the match off well for Saints. Myler failed to convert and within a minute Ash had sprung high to reclaim the the restart and scored an excellent try of his own to bring Saracens right back into the game.

Foden looked positively piratical and whilst both he and Ace struggled to get involved his first couple of runs were incisive and positive. I really hope 2015/16 can be his season.

A collision of heads between two Saracens players left both stunned and as Saints worked the ball back to the space on the left where both were still prone Garner rightly called for a stop in play. Fraser was one of the injured and was duly despatched to the sideline for a concussion test. Saints were starting to get traction in the loose with the forwards Dickinson and Fisher in particular carrying well. A lovely pop pass from Clark found Hartley coming at a great angle but unfortunately the hooker spilled the ball.

Saracens were kicking rather than running much of their ball and whilst Saints were secure under the bombardment on a Saints kick chase Collins took Morris in the air and Garner was quick to show him a yellow card. Thankfully Morris seemed just winded and returned to play whilst Collins went to the naughty step for ten. Spencer duly slotting a penalty in his absence. Collins made amends on his return. A lovely break from Stephenson and a sweet pass that brought Packman within a foot of the line. Saints recycled with great speed and composure and the ball was whisked to the left wing where Collins strolled in.

Throughout the first half the scrum looked stable but not comfortable with Dickson frequently having to dig ball out in one occasion going both left and back right evading tacklers on both sides before getting away a pass to Myler to clear. Houdini would have been proud of our new Captain.

A loose pass from Kerr was plucked form the air by a very sharp Burrell who raced to the line. Myler converted from in front. Within ten minutes a flat pass from Myler left Strether grasping as Burrell took a hard line straight through the Saracens defence to claim his second. Myler doing his best impression of teutonic efficiency minus the dodgy emissions reader and claiming the extras.

At half time Saints were two clear scores up leading Saracens 26 to 10. Fraser had come back on and gone off immediately to get a blood injury sorted. He stayed off which was hopefully just a precaution as it was great to see him back. At this stage both benches started to empty although somewhat confusingly players retained their XV numbers.

Hanrahan came on for Myler and made an immediate impression with a well struck penalty and a pass so far forward I expect it to land later today. Within minutes young tighthead Hill rampaged up field showing not only decent speed but a good fend. This was followed by another good carry by Haywood but whilst Saints were making ground some small imprecisions handed possession back to the opposition. Saracens worked their way upfield cumulating in Wray picking and driving over the line. Kerr added the extras from in front.

Hanrahan was starting to make inroads on the Saracens defence. Challenging the line in a different manner to Myler and eventually working the ball out wide to Packman who brought the ball close. It was efficiently recycled once again and moments later a delighted Gibson crashed over for his first full Saints cap and try.

On the 60th minutes both benches emptied and whilst the play was back and forth there were no further scores. Waller Junior executed a great turnover with Saracens in an attacking position, replacement lock Woolford was exceptional calling the lineout, soaring in the lineout, putting great pressure on Saracens and stealing their ball near our line. Howard came one and put in the sort of juddering tackle that in a cartoon would have resulted in a little ghostly version of the player floating off to heaven.

The game ended 17-36 with Saints looking comfortable throughout. It was a strong starting XV and whilst both teams are missing players to the RWC it was clear this had a greater impact on the Saracens team. With five tries to two the result was a fair reflection of the game.

Saints played well and it was a good first hit out. Our lineout was exceptional and whether it was Hartley to Day and Gibson or Haywood to Woolford and Ludlam it looked rock solid and a real weapon. Gibson was my Saints MotM. Great lineout and defence and the spoiling work that has plagued us when he was at Tigs was a real boon. The backs looked composed under the high ball and sharp in attack and it was interesting to see the difference Hanrahan brought to the attack. A good game for Burrell to who made his tackles, carried hard at the midfield and was well worth his brace of tries.

Overall a beautiful day and as alluded to above the sky blue and (a little) grey or our away kit was mirrored in the skies above. The Saints travelling support was phenomenal as always with the north end of the west stand being in especially fine voice. It was also great to meet Highbury Saracen and his friends and Joes excellent drumming really added to the occasion. I could see X-block-Dave snapping away so fingers crossed for some photos and one of his fantastic cartoons.


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News: (F) Saracens vs Saints - Saints Away (S)trip (IP Logged)
28/09/2015 10:59
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Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
tedge (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 15:09
Excellent report StED - thanks a lot

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
Deesaint (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 15:59
Excellent report StED - thanks a lot

Plus one - good stuff

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
X-Block Dave (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 16:20
Great Report SaintEd. Well done (Sm160)

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
SaintED (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 16:29
Thanks. It was a really lovely day.

X-Block Dave
Great Report SaintEd. Well done (Sm160)

Thanks. Was tempted to buy you a pint at half time but didn't want to disturb you and you were tucking into your burger! Great cartoon and photos.

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
fair_weather_fan (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 16:33
The highlight of the day was bantering the staff at the Wolf pack beer bus. You forgot to mention that St Ed, otherwise a very accurate report and with no hindsight either.

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
SaintED (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 16:39
The highlight of the day was bantering the staff at the Wolf pack beer bus. You forgot to mention that St Ed, otherwise a very accurate report and with no hindsight either.

I actually didn't get over to that corner only made it as far as the fine burgers. I could see that people were on the open top deck. Could anyone buying a libation go up there or was it staff and/or Sarries only?

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
oxonsarrie (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 17:55
Anyone who purchases a beer can go up to the top deck and it becomes home for many supporters. It was good to meet so many Saints on a friendly basis.I assume normal hostilities will resume at the start of the proper season. Thanks for an entertaining game in lovely sunshine. See you all at FG

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
Howlin (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 18:40
Thanks for the report Ed. Encouraging stuff.

Saint 'til I die

St Saltaire
Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
St Saltaire (IP Logged)
27/09/2015 22:40
St Ed - thanks for the report. An entertaining read, almost poetic in places*

Read your post on SArries board and wondered how your beer and pie were delivered (warm beer and cold pie?)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:09:27:22:53:38 by St Saltaire.

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
LaurieK (IP Logged)
28/09/2015 10:01
Great report, thanks. My additional thoughts are that George Furbank was a name new to me. He did not look fazed. Also odd how Nutters came on in second half but was soon replaced himself and back he comes later when Lewis was injured. Hope Lewis is OK.
Funny moment was Adam Parkins coming on at lock. Plus headguard.
Also, we parked at Barnet College, designated Sarries carpark, but there were no Pioneers to guide us to the ground. And once on Champions Way we passed Mill Hill Rugby Club who were very welcoming. Might be a good place to park next time.

Re: Saints v Sarries Match Report
twsaint (IP Logged)
28/09/2015 10:25
George Furbank is usually a full back . He's just joined the Senior Academy. Ex Bedford School.

Lewis Ludlam had his arm in a sling at the end. Didn't look too good.

Adam Parkins did fill in at lock. Let's hope that Paterson and/or Craig are close to fitness, we're short on numbers there until RWC is over.

Parking for Sarries is always a challenge. Huge restricted zone on event days.

Re: News: (F) Saracens vs Saints - Saints Away (S)trip
Phil. (IP Logged)
28/09/2015 11:03
Many apologies for the delay in getting your excellent report published, Martin - the real world got in the way...

St tub
Re: News: (F) Saracens vs Saints - Saints Away (S)trip
St tub (IP Logged)
28/09/2015 11:25
As much as Sarries (board) are saying that wasn't anything like their first team.. looking at the below - they will be pretty annoyed, especially up front given we only had one lock on the pitch

Gibson is a cracking acquisition, how you play the guy with Woody around is a tough one to answer - presumably you gamble and have no lineout lock on the bench, letting you have Patterson or Fisher and Gibson

1. Rhys Gill,
2. Jared Saunders,
3. Petrus Du Plessis;
4. Jim Hamilton,
5. Maro Itoje ;
6. Michael Rhodes,
7. Will Fraser,
8. Ernst Joubert;
9. Ben Spencer,
10. Baden Kerr;
11. Mike Ellery,
12. Nick Tompkins,
13. Tim Streather,
14. Chris Ashton;
15. Aaron Morris.
16. Dave Porecki,
17. Richard Barrington,
18. Biyi Alo,
19. Ed Gower,
20. Kelly Brown,
21. Jackson Wray,
22. Neil De Kock,
23. Nils Mordt,
24. Tom Griffiths,
25. Nathan Earle,
26. Matt Gallagher,
27. Dominic Morris.

Re: News: (F) Saracens vs Saints - Saints Away (S)trip
SaintED (IP Logged)
28/09/2015 17:03
Many apologies for the delay in getting your excellent report published, Martin - the real world got in the way...

No problem at all. Thought I'd just put it up. Thanks for the intro and image.

@twsaint was that Parkins at 4 as a replacement? I thought it was Woolford? whoever it was they were very good. Stealing ball and secure on ours. What happened to Lewis I didn't even realise he had gone off.

Re: News: (F) Saracens vs Saints - Saints Away (S)trip
tws (IP Logged)
28/09/2015 20:35
Both of them on, Woolford was winning the ball Parkins is a TH prop filling. Ludlam seemed to injure his collarbone or similar. Nutley had been replaced by Williams and came back.

Re: News: (F) Saracens vs Saints - Saints Away (S)trip
To Mega Therion (IP Logged)
29/09/2015 07:56
Entertaining game on a pleasant autumn day.

Saints looked very powerful, if lacking in width a lot of the time. Still, enjoyable match and the Saints fans I met on the way to the ground were very nice to talk to.
Eparistera Daimones

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