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Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Saturday, 12 February 2011

Northampton 15-29 Saracens

Northampton (10) 15
Tries: Clarke, Diggin Con: Myler Pens: Myler
Saracens (6) 29
Tries: Barritt, Stevens Con: Goode 2 Pens: Goode 4 Drop-goals: Barritt

Saracens' Chris Wyles is tackled
Saracens' Chris Wyles is stopped in his tracks by a combination of Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler and prop Brian Mujati during his side's 29-15 win

Saracens moved to within two points of leaders Leicester by inflicting a third straight league defeat on Northampton.

Saints led 10-6 at the break, with Jon Clarke's converted try the difference as Stephen Myler and Alex Goode both kicked penalties.

Goode's third penalty and a converted Brad Barritt try gave Saracens the lead for the first time.

Paul Diggin brought Saints to within a point but Matthew Stevens' try, a Goode penalty and Barritt's drop-goal won it.

For all Saracens' never-say-die spirit, Northampton would have been left kicking themselves after losing the initiative in the closing stages of the first half.

They led 10-3 at that stage courtesy of Clarke dummying his way past Rodd Penney and Barritt to score, after Saints fly-half Myler and Sarries full-back Goode had earlier exchanged 30-metre penalties.

And they seemed certain to stretch their lead as Saracens had prop Carlos Nieto and scrum-half Owen Farrell sin-binned for an illegal act at a ruck and a high tackle respectively.

Instead, being reduced to 13 men galvanised the visitors, who scored 13 unanswered points while short-handed.

Goode kicked penalties either side of half time and then converted from wide out after Barritt scored in the corner to cap a move that started with Penney charging down a clearance inside the Saints 22.

Diggin went over in the corner to give Northampton hope, but Saracens took the game away from them once the hosts were reduced to 14 men when when number eight Roger Wilson was sin-binned for a high tackle.

Stevens went over under the posts, with Goode converting and landing another penalty, before Barritt rubbed salt into Saints wounds with a late 25-metre drop-goal.

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton:
"It was not nice to lose and especially at home. We came second best today and I thought Saracens were accurate.

"Saracens took their chances and the points on offer, and when we got them down to 13 men, we didn't take that opportunity.

"We need to learn our lessons and learn them fast."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:
"We have a squad who like each other and, when you are down to 13 men, you have to play for each other which is what happened today.

"Having been down to 13 men against a team like Northampton and not conceded is massive.

"Our defence has been good in the last couple of weeks and was outstanding today. This is a tough place to come and so we are just glad we have got a result."

Northampton: Tonks, Reihana, Clarke, Downey, Diggin, Myler, Powell, Tonga'uiha, Sharman, Mujati, Vickerman, Day, Clark, Dowson, Wilson.

Replacements: Armstrong for Tonks (77), Geraghty for Downey (65), Commins for Powell (57), Waller for Tonga'uiha (70), Long for Sharman (70), Mercey for Mujati (72), Sorenson for Vickerman (70), Easter for Day (70).

Sin Bin: Wilson (64).

Saracens: Goode, Strettle, Penney, Barritt, Wyles, de Kock, Farrell, Gill, Brits, Nieto, Smith, Botha, Melck, Burger, Joubert.

Replacements: Short for Strettle (40), Tagicakibau for Penney (63), Wigglesworth for de Kock (52), Saunders for Gill (78), George for Brits (61), Stevens for Nieto (57), Vyvyan for Botha (52), Saull for Burger (40).

Sin Bin: Nieto (30), Farrell (35).

Att: 13,219

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

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see also
Saracens 12-6 London Irish
09 Jan 11 |  English
Leicester 27-16 Northampton
08 Jan 11 |  English
Rugby Union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union

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