Tom Vickers’ Saints v Saracens view and player ratings

FANS' FAVOURITE - Samu Manoa (Picture: James Phillips)
FANS' FAVOURITE - Samu Manoa (Picture: James Phillips)

Saints have now won their past three games against Saracens - and Samu Manoa has stamped his authority on each one of them.

Saracens players are to Manoa what a red rag is to a bull, with the American displaying extreme intensity levels every time he faces the men from Allianz Park.

Last May, he was a picture of strength as he bulldozed Northampton into the Premiership final at the expense of Saracens at Allianz Park.

Then, in October, he was once again named man of the match as Sarries were slayed 41-20 at Franklin’s Gardens.

And he was at it again on Saturday, dragging a Saints team lacking some inspiration towards a home semi-final.

Manoa’s performance was as huge as his frame, scoring twice and helping to set up the first score for James Wilson.

Saracens simply could not cope with the forward, who turned his hand to playing at lock rather than at No.8, where he has been plying his trade of late.

Manoa gave impetus to a Saints team who were crying out for it.

Saracens had taken a 16-15 lead going into the game’s final stages and looked set to host Saints in the semi-finals on the second weekend of March.

Enter Manoa, who bulldozed his way over the line for the second time during the second half, and Saints turned the tables, switching the final-four tie to the Gardens.

It gives them a great chance of making the Sandy Park showpiece and claiming the first silverware of the season.

That would provide the perfect platform for a push in the Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup.

And if Saints are to have a shot at each of those trophies, they will need their Californian crusher to continue his hugely impressive form.

How they rated...

JAMES WILSON

Jinked inside nicely to grab Saints’ first try and performed well in every aspect of the game... 8

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Continually looked for work as he came off his wing and played his part in the try for Wilson... 7

GEORGE PISI

Showed some real midfield flair in the opening stages. Limped off in the second half, having performed well... 7

DOM WALDOUCK

Was guilty of a couple of poor passes, but put in a physical performance and made some nice breaks... 6

KEN PISI

Displayed some good footwork and looked lively throughout. Couldn’t get himself a try, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying... 6

WILL HOOLEY

A mixed debut for the youngster, but he showed some real character to overcome a couple of missed kicks and grabbed five crucial points... 7

KAHN FOTUALI’I

Kept Saints ticking over and managed the game well for the time he was on the field. Yellow card was a small blot on an impressive copybook... 7

ETHAN WALLER

Impressed in the scrum once again and made some big carries in a bid to get his team on the front foot... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD

A typically aggressive display from the young hooker, who throws himself in at the breakdown. Did well in the lineout once again... 7

GARETH DENMAN

Was part of a good performance from the Saints pack and can be proud of his second start in Northampton colours... 7

ROB VERBAKEL

Made a couple of carries and put some energy into the scrum in a dominant performance from the Saints pack... 6

SAMU MANOA

Running out of superlatives for the big American, who dragged Saints to the win by the scruff of the neck. Two tries and a part in another. Huge... 9

TEIMANA HARRISON

Plenty of power from the young flanker. He’s a good option to have in the back row and will hope for more game time in the coming weeks... 6

BEN NUTLEY

Impressive performance at the breakdown from the flanker, who competed superbly on the ground and was a big asset... 8

GJ VAN VELZE

Another solid display from the No.8, who captained the team well and who has staked his claim for more starts in the coming weeks... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

CHRISTIAN DAY (for Verbakel 53)

Added experience at a time when Saints were crying out for more leadership. Shored things up... 7

MATT WILLIAMS (for Harrison 53)

Plenty of power from the back row forward, who carried well and tackled hard to stop Saracens getting the points they needed for victory... 7

ADAM PARKINS (for Denman 55)

Continued Saints’ dominance up front and can be pleased with the performance he put in... 6