Burrell shines as Saints smash Saracens

Luther Burrell stormed in for the second of his two tries (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Luther Burrell stormed in for the second of his two tries (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Luther Burrell produced a spirited reaction to his England snub with two tries in a 36-17 pre-season win at Saracens on Saturday afternoon.

Burrell, who missed out on a place in the final 31-man squad for the World Cup, was playing his first game since receiving the news.

Ben Foden congratulates Luther Burrell

Ben Foden congratulates Luther Burrell

And he showed no signs of dwelling on the disappointment, registering twice in a first half dominated by Jim Mallinder’s men.

The second try was particularly eye-catching as the barrel-chested centre ran a nice line and brushed off a couple of tackles to dot down.

It put the icing on the cake of a fine first 40 minutes in the opening pre-season friendly, with talented young wingers Tom Collins and Howard Packman also scoring.

Jamie Gibson, making his first appearance in Saints colours since his summer move from Leicester Tigers, added a fifth try after the break.

Howard Packman scored Saints' first try

Howard Packman scored Saints' first try

Saints had named a strong squad for the friendly clash, with Burrell joined in the line-up by the likes of Calum Clark and Stephen Myler, who were also in England’s training squad.

Dylan Hartley was in action for the first time since his ban, which ended on September 21, was lifted, but new skipper Lee Dickson led the team out at Allianz Park.

Saints, wearing their new grey away kit, swarmed all over Saracens in the early stages, with the home side leaking penalties like a boat with a hole in it.

And it was only a matter of time before the away side made their pressure pay, with the ball sent wide right to Packman, who finished well.

Dylan Hartley started for the first time since his ban ended

Dylan Hartley started for the first time since his ban ended

But Myler sent the conversion to the right of the red posts, and Saracens were soon at the Saints door.

Mike Ellery somehow stayed in play on the left flank and after the ball was fired across the field to Chris Ashton, the former Saints wing kept his nerve to dot down.

Ben Spencer added the extras to put his team in the lead and Saints were then immediately stung by a sin-binning, with Collins carded for a dangerous tackle.

Spencer soon added a penalty to the Saracens tally, but those were the only points scored while Collins was in the bin.

Christian Day had a good game for Saints

Christian Day had a good game for Saints

And the wing returned to help Saints regain their lead as superb work from Tom Stephenson helped gain field position and Collins finished the move.

Myler kicked the conversion with aplomb to make it 12-10 and Saints were soon given a gift to help them extend their lead.

Burrell sniffed the opportunity and intercepted fly-half Baden Kerr’s pass, carrying the ball unopposed over the try line.

Myler took the gap to nine points with the simple conversion and Saints were soon impressing in defence, pushing back a lineout drive to win possession.

They were to use it well as some more good forward play provided a platform and Burrell ran a beautiful line before picking the ball up and shrugging off two tackles to score.

It was a superb effort from the centre and Myler put the gloss on it with another good kick in windy conditions.

JJ Hanrahan, on for Myler at the break, landed the first points of the second half, kicking a penalty after a quick break from new prop Paul Hill had caught Saracens by surprise.

But it was to be the home side who registered the first try of the half as Jackson Wray peeled away from a scrum close to the Saints line and dived over.

Kerr added the conversion to cut the gap to 12 before Saints looked to their bench to breath new life into proceedings.

Gibson was still on though and the former Tiger stretched out an arm to score for Saints.

Hanrahan added the conversion and those were to be the final points of an entertaining game as Mallinder’s men started their pre-season campaign in style.

Saracens: A Morris; Ashton, Streather, Tompkins, Ellery; Kerr (Mordt 60), Spencer (De Kock 40); Gill (Barrington 40), Saunders, Du Plessis (Alo 60); Hamilton (Gower 60), Itoje (c); Rhodes, Fraser (Brown 40), Joubert (Wray 40).

Saints: Foden (Tuala 50); Packman (Furbank 70), Stephenson (Howard 55), Burrell (Eves 50), Collins (Hutchinson 70); Myler (Hanrahan 40), Dickson (Kessell 50); A Waller (E Waller 50), Hartley (Haywood 50), Denman (Hill 40); Dickinson (Woolford 50), Day; Gibson (Ludlam 61), Clark (Harrison 61), Fisher (Nutley 61 (Williams 75)).

Referee: Greg Garner