Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 20 - Tom Vickers’ view and player ratings

DOWN AND OUT - Mike Haywood, on his 100th appearance for Saints, shows his disappointment during Satyurday's defeat to Saracens (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
DOWN AND OUT - Mike Haywood, on his 100th appearance for Saints, shows his disappointment during Satyurday's defeat to Saracens (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
0
Have your say

When it was announced that Franklin’s Gardens would host this season’s LV= Cup final, you felt certain Saints would be there.

You could not see how, with a squad so deep and an avaricious appetite to attend their own party, they would pass up the invitation.

And after 20 minutes of Saturday afternoon’s game at Saracens, fans would have already been considering which of their favourite Saints shirts they would wear to the big bash.

Because Jim Mallinder’s men cruised through the first quarter of the battle in Barnet.

They totally dominated a Saracens side who looked to be limited in terms of application and attitude.

It looked like it would be another day when Saints stormed Allianz Park and made the opposition’s hopes of winning look as artificial as their playing surface.

But having only managed to make their possession pay in the form of two Sam Olver penalties, Jim Mallinder’s men were made to pay.

Saracens were clinical in sending David Strettle over from one of their only attacks in the opening 30 minutes of the game.

And though they wasted a couple more chances before the break, with Sam Olver taking his for Saints, the men in black would not let their opportunity to earn a final appearance slip.

How sweet it was for the side who so relish wins against Saints.

While the final would have been a great day out for fans and players alike, the biggest prizes will be dished out in May

Tom Vickers

And how sweet it will be for the men who run out at the Gardens aiming to bring the silverware back to Barnet next Sunday.

But for Saints, who produced a valiant late charge to earn the win, it was a case of what might have been.

They will be on their own ground in mind rather than body next weekend.

But they will also know that there is no need to dwell on this defeat and the fact a home final has eluded them.

Because while that would have been a great day out for fans and players alike, the biggest prizes will be dished out in May.

And Saints still have a Champions Cup quarter-final at Clermont Auvergne to think about and a home Premiership play-off semi-final to secure.

So all is very far from lost.

Last season, LV= Cup disappointment in the final at Exeter was followed by success in the league and in Europe.

And how dearly Saints would love to repeat that achievement this time round.

How they rated...

AHSEE TUALA

A strong performance from the full-back, who worked his way out of trouble well and also posed a threat on the counter... 7

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Never really got too involved in the game as Saracens did well to shut the door on the Saints winger... 6

DOM WALDOUCK

A performance full of gusto as he continually probed for openings and put his body in the line of fire... 7

TOM STEPHENSON

Some typically good footwork made him a slippery customer and Saracens had to be at their best to shackle him... 7

TOM COLLINS

Almost scored a superb first-half try, only being denied at the last, and he was lively throughout... 7

SAM OLVER

A performance of real character from the 20-year-old, who soaked up a huge hit from Saracens enforcer Maro Itoje and scored 13 first-half points... 8

KAHN FOTUALI’I

The sparky Samoan did his best to get Saints on the front foot, but Saracens dealt with him well... 6

ALEX CORBISIERO

Was forced off with a shoulder problem, which is not said to be serious, but before then he had put in some hard yards... 6

MIKE HAYWOOD

A steady display from the hooker, who was celebrating the fine achievement of a 100th Saints appearance at the age of just 23... 7

SALESI MA’AFU

Swamped Saracens loosehead Rhys Gill in the scrum early on and his dominance gave Saints a platform in the game... 7

SAMU MANOA

A threat throughout, the big American played a key role in Olver’s try and was an important influence once again... 7

TOM RYDER

Always gives everything and was part of a big first-half forward effort, but his former club just had too much in the end... 6

JON FISHER

His raw power caused Saracens problems from the off and he was unlucky to see his game cut short by an ankle injury... 7

PHIL DOWSON

The skipper was a real force, making some big carries and tackles as he showed the desire to lift the trophy on home turf... 7

SAM DICKINSON

A big performance from the No.8, who carried well and made one superb saving tackle to stop Itoje dotting down in the corner... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

GARETH DENMAN (for Ma’afu 56)

Came into the game at a difficult time as Saracens had a real stranglehold at the time and made it tough... 6

CALUM CLARK (for Fisher 56)

Plenty of passion as always and you could see his desperation to drive his team to victory, though Saracens just had enough... 7

CHRON STAR MAN - Maro Itoje (Saracens)

Saracens v Northampton Saints, LV Cup.'Tom Collins NNL-150314-230224009

Saracens v Northampton Saints, LV Cup.'Tom Collins NNL-150314-230224009

Saracens v Northampton Saints, LV Cup.'Stephen Myler NNL-150314-230155009

Saracens v Northampton Saints, LV Cup.'Stephen Myler NNL-150314-230155009

Saracens v Northampton Saints, LV Cup.'Ben Nutley NNL-150314-230141009

Saracens v Northampton Saints, LV Cup.'Ben Nutley NNL-150314-230141009