Northampton Saints 13 Saracens 57: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Courtney Lawes displayed his disappointment after Saints' defeat to Saracens (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Courtney Lawes displayed his disappointment after Saints' defeat to Saracens (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Sunday evening hasn't been this painful since Heartbeat graced our scenes.

Saints suffered a record home defeat - their worst since the club was formed in 1880 - at the hands of Saracens, just 43 days after enduring agony against the same side.

Jamie Gibson goes up for a lineout

Jamie Gibson goes up for a lineout

Jim Mallinder's men were tormented at Twickenham on September 2, shipping nine tries in a chastening 55-24 defeat on the opening day of the Aviva Premiership.

They hoped that was a blip.

And that seemed to be backed up by the fact Saints won their next four matches in impressive fashion.

But on Sunday evening, Saracens showed there is a sizeable gulf in class.

Ahsee Tuala tried to give Saints some attacking momentum

Ahsee Tuala tried to give Saints some attacking momentum

That the way they put Saints to the sword at English rugby HQ wasn't a flash in the south-west London pan.

No, Saracens, as they have continued to prove since losing the Premiership final to Saints in 2014, are here to stay.

But they certainly weren't pleasant guests at Franklin's Gardens.

As all top sides do, they took plenty of pleasure in sticking the knife in and twisting it several times.

Tom Wood came on to make his 150th Saints appearance

Tom Wood came on to make his 150th Saints appearance

Actually, eight times to be precise, as they took their try total against Saints to 17 in just two matches this season.

The points tally reads Saracens 112, Saints 37.

That makes for miserable reading for Mallinder's men and their fans, who were taunted by the travelling Saracens supporters.

Cries of 'oh when the Saints go marching home' could be heard during the second half as some Northampton fans headed off to catch the rest of the X Factor.

On the field, Saracens certainly had that, proving they are more than just a defensive kicking machine.

They produced some sublime running rugby and controlled the game, pretty much from start to finish.

Saints could just stand back and admire the opposition, and at times they did just that.

There will be some soul-searching at the Gardens again this week, with the players and coaches hoping another big reaction can be conjured up.

Saints have done it before in Europe, against the likes of Ulster and Leinster.

But bouncing back by beating Clermont Auvergne at the raucous Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday would top the lot.

Because Clermont, let's not forget, are the team who Saracens edged out in last season's final.

And Clermont are the team who trounced Saints in the quarter-finals in April 2015.

They are a formidable force. Just like Saracens.

And somehow Saints must find the huge amount of extra power and panache they require to compete with Europe's elite.

They worked so hard to get here, winning two nerve-jangling play-off matches to avoid ending up in the Challenge Cup.

But at times on Sunday evening, they must have wondered what they have let themselves in for.

It is great to dine at the top table, but when others take all of your food and leave you starving, it's not much of a party.

And Saints now need to serve up something really special on Saturday.

How they rated...

AHSEE TUALA

Was left chasing shadows defensively as Saracens rang rings around Saints and he had little possession to show his attacking threat with... 3

GEORGE NORTH

Was forced off with a knee injury after trying to carry his team forward, but Saints were already well behind by then... 4

LUTHER BURRELL

Carried the fight to Saracens on a few occasions, desperately trying to get his team on the front foot, but it was another tough day defensively as Saracens ran riot... 4

PIERS FRANCIS

Again showed some glimpses of the class he possesses, but Saints didn't have much of the ball and he was constantly forced to play on the back foot... 3

BEN FODEN

Was brought in to help Saints deal with Saracens' high-ball threat, but they didn't and they lost battles all over the pitch... 3

STEPHEN MYLER

Preceded this game with a couple of classy cameos from the bench, but couldn't have any sort of impact here, aside from slotting two penalties... 3

COBUS REINACH

Made his first Saints start a week earlier, impressing at times against Gloucester, but he didn't have any chance to inject tempo into this game... 3

ALEX WALLER

Never gives any less than 100 per cent, week in, week out, but Saints simply weren't good enough here... 3

DYLAN HARTLEY

Much was made of this man's battle with Jamie George, but that was irrelevant as Saracens outclassed Saints... 4

KIERAN BROOKES

A tough day for Saints in all departments and this player was at least able to get more of a breather ahead of next week... 3

MICHAEL PATERSON

Has been consistently good since the opening-day defeat to Saracens, but couldn't have an impact on this occasion... 3

DAVID RIBBANS

Was sin-binned during the first half, paying the price as Saints desperately tried, and failed, to stop Saracens securing the bonus point before the break... 3

COURTNEY LAWES

Was easily Saints' best player once again, putting in a strong shift that didn't count for anything due to the team performance... 6

JAMIE GIBSON

Has been so impressive this season, but his effort wasn't rewarded here as Saracens took Saints apart... 3

TEIMANA HARRISON

Showed plenty of fight, especially when coming up against Owen Farrell during the first half, but his desire wasn't rewarded... 5

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

TOM COLLINS (for North 27)

Did some good things after coming on, including putting in one nice chip that almost led to a try, but the game had got away from Saints by then... 5

TOM WOOD (for Ribbans 48)

Would have hoped to celebrate his 150th Saints appearance in a very different manner as his team were out of the game by the time he came on and they continued to ship tries... 5

NIC GROOM (for Reinach 48)

Has enjoyed a fine start to the season, but was never going to be able to continue that here as Saints were miles behind when he got on the field... 4

JAMAL FORD-ROBINSON (for Brookes 51)

Has been given some good experience in recent weeks, but this wasn't an enjoyable one for the prop in a tough day for his team... 4

API RATUNIYARAWA (for Paterson 55)

Usually a good impact replacement, but he couldn't have a say here as the one-way traffic continued towards' Saints' line... 4

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Hartley 58)

May have grabbed his fourth try in as many games as he felt he scored the effort that was awarded to Francois van Wyk, and he put in plenty of effort again... 5

CHRON STAR MAN - Liam Williams (Saracens)