Northampton Saints 23 Saracens 9: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Alex Waller lifted his first trophy as Saints skipper
Alex Waller lifted his first trophy as Saints skipper

The Premiership Rugby Cup may not be the competition all of England's top division teams want to win, but it has not lacked meaning for Saints this season.

And the outpouring of emotion after they lifted the trophy at a largely jubilant Franklin's Gardens on Sunday afternoon was there for all to see.

James Grayson impressed for Saints

James Grayson impressed for Saints

It might not be the Champions Cup or the Premiership, but it is still a piece of first-team silverware.

And winning it this year is a huge shot in the arm for Saints.

Why?

Because it was a first trophy for new boss Chris Boyd at the first attempt.

George Furbank was in fine form again

George Furbank was in fine form again

Why?

Because it gives substance to the style the team has shown this season.

Why?

Because it brings back a trophy-winning habit that has been gone for too long (almost five full years to be precise).

Rory Hutchinson enjoyed a fine game after coming on during the opening 10 minutes

Rory Hutchinson enjoyed a fine game after coming on during the opening 10 minutes

Why?

Because it has helped the black, green and gold finally end a nine-match losing streak against Saracens.

Why?

Because it is a huge boost for the young players who have impressed so much this season.

It shows they can not only win things for the Wanderers - as they did in 2017 and 2018 - but they can win things for the first team.

All in all, becoming Premiership Rugby Cup champions will rarely have meant so much to a club.

It is a key moment during a new journey that began when Boyd arrived in Northampton last summer.

What has happened since has really helped to restore the Franklin's Gardens feelgood factor that dissipated when things started to go wrong after the 2014/15 table-topping season.

Saints have played with a swagger, and they have won with it, too.

On Sunday, they always seemed in control.

Their young players, just as has been the case during the entirety of the campaign, showed no sign of nerves.

They have been given real belief by the coaches - and they have repaid them in real style.

From half-backs Alex Mitchell and James Grayson, who pulled the strings, to Alex Moon and Lewis Ludlam, who provided the team with an engine, there were impressive performances across the board.

There was talk that Saracens had picked a young team whereas Saints had picked a first team.

But the fact is, Saints' first team is now a young team.

So many of their Academy graduates have not only staked their claim this season, they have cemented a starting spot.

They have demonstrated that they can drag Saints up with youthful exuberance and no shortage of talent.

And now many of the young men who have grown up watching Northampton lift trophies have shown they can lift one themselves.

How they rated...

GEORGE FURBANK

Has been consistently excellent this season, and this display was no different. Did everything he had to superbly well... 9

AHSEE TUALA

Showed great composure and power to finish the opportunity that came his way and caused Saracens constant problems with his footwork... 8

LUTHER BURRELL

Didn't have any time to make a real impact as he made a huge carry that left him grounded before being helped from the field. Was able to enjoy the win eventually though.

PIERS FRANCIS

A gargantuan display from the centre, who was hugely impressive in defence and attack, capping his showing with the penalty that truly put the game to bed... 9

TAQELE NAIYARAVORO

A massive showing from a massive player, who caused real problems for former Saints wing Rotimi Segun, the youngster who had the tough task of trying to stop him... 9

JAMES GRAYSON - CHRON STAR MAN

Another extremely accomplished fly-half showing that contained moments of real class. His passing game was superb and he played a key role in Saints' scores... 9

ALEX MITCHELL

Was too hot for Saracens to handle as he constantly made his way through gaps to gain Saints some vital ground... 9

ALEX WALLER

The co-captain came up with his best performance of the season so far as he refused to let Saracens get a grip on the game in any department... 8

REECE MARSHALL

Full of energy throughout, the hooker celebrated getting engaged on the eve of the game with a cup triumph... 7

PAUL HILL

Delivered a tireless effort, full of desire, but his determination did go a step too far as he took out Max Malins in the air to receive a yellow card... 7

API RATUNIYARAWA

Continually pushed Saracens back with some brute force as he proceeded to show his worth to Saints once again... 8

ALEX MOON

Received some rave reviews after this performance as he hammered away at Saracens, delivering a fantastic second row showing... 9

TOM WOOD

Was a constant menace for the Saracens half-backs, refusing to give them a moment to breathe. Showed huge determination to score in another big display... 9

LEWIS LUDLAM

Just did not stop working for his side, continually flying into tackles, carrying well, pushing Saracens at the breakdown and eventually celebrating a victory... 9

TEIMANA HARRISON

Was part of a monstrous back row effort, which all began with the returning No.8 powering over for his team's first try... 9

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

RORY HUTCHINSON (for Burrell 9)

Came off the bench early on and showed his class once again as his offloading game and ability to find space proved key... 8

COBUS REINACH (for Mitchell 59)

Didn't have too long to make an impact but did little wrong as he helped Saints to close the game out in a comfortable fashion... 7