Saracens 35 Northampton Saints 46: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

It was certainly Super Saturday at StoneX Stadium.

By Tom Vickers
Sunday, 20th March 2022, 12:11 pm
Updated Sunday, 20th March 2022, 12:12 pm
Tom James excelled for Saints during the first half
Tom James excelled for Saints during the first half

Because while it didn't have anywhere near the meaning of the big Six Nations final day, it certainly had all the entertainment and more.

For Saints, there was much to celebrate.

Seven tries, five debuts and countless strong showings as they secured a thrilling win against a Saracens side who had some talented players on show.

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As the wind whistled around, creating what felt like a wind tunnel, Saints flew into their hosts.

And in the second half alone, they flew over the try line on five occasions.

George Hendy produced the day's most eye-catching contributions, scoring twice, with both efforts starting from inside his own half.

He caught the ball with his first touch and never looked back, putting Saracens to the sword.

And the icing on the cake came when Frankie Sleightholme put the game to bed with a debut score a couple of minutes from time.

There was so much to savour and smile about from a Saints perspective.

No one is pretending Premiership Rugby Cup outcomes are the most important thing for the black, green and gold this season.

But days like this are a real reason for cheer.

They provide a window to the future.

And if this is to be Saints' future, that future should be bright.

There is much to do for these young men to build careers in the game, but the grounding they receive in the Saints Academy is clearly second to none.

And when you see how much of an impact players like George Furbank and Tommy Freeman have been able to have on the first team in recent years, Hendy and Co will have high hopes.

Even though the win wasn't the most important thing to take from the trip to Saracens, there is no doubt that it mattered much to these young men.

And it mattered to the club as a whole because momentum is so important at this stage of the season.

The feelgood factor is vital as Saints retain hope of a play-off push.

To keep that particular flame burning they will need to win a crucial Gallagher Premiership game at London Irish next Saturday.

The team that thrilled on Saturday afternoon showed the way, displaying the fearlessness of youth away from home.

And now Saints will be tasked with channeling that to deliver a more significant success at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday.

How they rated...

TOMMY FREEMAN

Showed flashes of the obvious class he possesses, with a couple of moments of magic proving too much for some of the Saracens defenders. Grabbed a try on his return... 7.5

JOSH GILLESPIE

On another day he could have had a couple of tries as he showed really good speed and awareness at times... 7

PIERS FRANCIS

Led the team really well and got among the tries in what was a hugely influential performance from start to finish... 8

JOEL MATAVESI

It's hard to judge based on one Premiership Rugby Cup game but this man has the power to be an asset for Saints and he not only absorbed some big hits but dished them out, too... 7.5

AHSEE TUALA

A good showing from the Samoan ace as he stayed in play well under pressure and also dealt with the high ball securely... 7

JAMES GRAYSON

Had a tough time from the tee but his overall play was good and he scored his second try in as many matches while also setting up a couple... 7.5

TOM JAMES

A really lively showing from the scrum-half, who was Saints' most influential back during the first period, scoring one and setting up another for Grayson... 8

NICK AUTERAC

A really strong first-half showing from the prop, who got on top at the scrum and also looked to carry with force when he got the chance... 7

JAMES FISH

Appeared to suffer concussion during a first-half collision but was going well up until then... 6.5

KARL GARSIDE

Was part of a very good scrum effort during the first half and would probably have fancied a few second-half minutes given the chance... 7

ALEX MOON

Had said earlier in the week just how keen he was to play after recovering from injury, and you could see that here as he continually tried to get his hands on the ball... 7

LUKE FROST

Worked hard for the team and certainly didn't look out of place as the Bedford loanee got stuck in for Saints... 7

JJ TONKS

Got through plenty of work as Saints put pressure on Saracens and could be pleased with his efforts... 7

OLLIE NEWMAN

Such a shame for the young flanker as he had to be helped from the field after just five minutes

GEORDIE IRVINE

Looks a real prospect as he again impressed at No.8, showing decent physicality and providing some good moments, particularly in the second period... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

GEORGE PATTEN (for Newman 5)

Came into the game much earlier than he would have expected but certainly wasn't fazed, earning praise from forwards coach Phil Dowson after the match... 7.5

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Fish 34)

A tidy performance from the hooker, who showed plenty of hunger after coming into the game earlier than he would have expected... 7

DANNY HOBBS-AWOYEMI (for Auterac 40)

Hadn't played for Saints since September 2020 but he didn't lack any physicality here as he regularly took the ball into traffic well... 7

ED PROWSE (for Garside 40)

Has proper power for such a young player and showed why Saints rate him highly with a good display... 7

CONNOR TUPAI (for James 56)

Came into the game at a time when it was starting to get a little wild, and he did well to snuff out a Saracens attack while also giving his side a decent tempo... 6.5

GEORGE HENDY - CHRON STAR MAN (for Freeman 56)

What a cameo from the young full-back! He scored twice and helped to set one up in a dazzling 24 minutes on the field. Showed impressive speed and finishing ability... 8.5