Saints secure the silverware as Saracens are slayed in Franklin's Gardens final

It was a perfect 10 for Saints as they ended a long wait for silverware by beating Saracens 23-9 in the Premiership Rugby Cup final at a sold-out Franklin's Gardens.

Sunday, 17th March 2019, 6:08 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th March 2019, 6:11 pm
Teimana Harrison started the scoring for Saints

Tries from Teimana Harrison, Tom Wood and Ahsee Tuala ensured Saracens' nine-match winning streak against Saints in all competitions would come to an end on Sunday afternoon.James Grayson added five points with the boot and Piers Francis three on a windy day as Saints claimed their first trophy since beating Saracens in the 2014 Premiership final.A huge roar greeted the final whistle as Saints supporters celebrated some long-awaited success and first trophy under new boss Chris Boyd, who arrived at the club last summer.Saracens, captained by former Saints flanker Calum Clark, had struggled to really trouble the black, green and gold, only registering three Max Malins penalties.And in the end it was a hugely deserved victory for Northampton, who had played at a great tempo and with real intensity throughout.The teams had emerged to a great noise, with the Saints fans massively outnumbering and outsinging their Saracens foes.When the battle on the field began, the breakdown scrap was hugely intense, with both sides competing ferociously, exchanging penalties as they fought for supremacy.And it was Saints who struck first as Grayson's superb flat pass found Naiyaravoro and he released Harrison, who charged down the left wing before finishing brilliantly.Saints had been down to 14 men when scoring the try as Luther Burrell took a big hit in midfield, and it was an injury that saw the centre helped from the field.Rory Hutchinson was introduced after Grayson had sent the touchline conversion just wide.Saints led 5-0 but they soon gifted Saracens three points after fluffing a lineout in their own 22 and going on the concede a penalty, which fly-half Malins kicked.Malins then got a huge slice of luck, firing a penalty that looked likely to go dead before it took a big bounce left, hit the flag and gave Saracens a lineout five metres out.They were rightly denied a try by the TMO from the resulting lineout, but after Ben Earl put pressure on following a scrum, they won a breakdown penalty, which Malins kicked.But Saints were not deterred and after big carries from Hutchinson and Taqele Naiyaravoro, the ball was moved with real speed to the right, where Wood was waiting to finish well.Grayson hit the post and bar with the conversion but the ball bounced back out, leaving Saints 10-6 up.But the home side were soon reduced to 14 men as Paul Hill was shown a yellow card for taking Malins out in the air.Malins soon landed another penalty, conceded by Harrison, to reduce the deficit to a single point.But Saints were stung into life once more, scoring with 13 men as Hill was in the bin and Francis was down injured.Grayson pulled the strings and Tuala showed his strength, emulating Wood by powering over in the same corner.Grayson kicked the conversion superbly, drawing a huge roar from the home fans, and Saints were playing at a hugely impressive pace.Saracens responded with a huge scrum, winning a penalty, but Malins missed for the first time in the match.The men in red threatened to score their first two two minutes before the break as Malins charged down the right, but he was stopped at the last by the resilient George Furbank.Saints then stood tall as Saracens continued to apply some pressure through the forwards, winning a penalty that relieved the pressure and kept the score at 17-9 at the break.Saints had a chance to extend their lead at the start of the second half after winning a penalty at a Saracens scrum, but the strong wind proved problematic as Grayson's kick fell well short.But Grayson made amends with 25 minutes to go after Saints swarmed all over Saracens to win another penalty.Naiyaravoro was wreaking havoc, bouncing former Saints youngster Rotimi Segun off at will with some incredible carries.The game then became slightly scrappy as both sides made plenty of changes, but the next points would go the way of Saints as the impressive Francis landed a penalty.And from then on it looked inevitable that the men in black, green and gold would get the job done.They saw it out in style continuing to put the pressure on their opponents until the last as they drew a huge roar from their supporters on an important afternoon for Boyd's men.Saints: Furbank; Tuala, Burrell (Hutchinson 9), Francis, Naiyaravoro (Collins 75); Grayson, Mitchell (Reinach 59); Waller (c) (van Wyk 62), Marshall (Fish 62), Hill (Franks 62); Moon, Ratuniyarawa (Craig 73); Wood (Gibson 68), Ludlam, Harrison.Saracens: Gallagher; Crossdale (Lewington 50), Bosch, Morris (Griffiths 56), Segun; Malins, Whiteley (Taylor 62); Barrington (Adams-Hale 50), Tolofua (Gray 50), Judge (Thompson-Stringer 62); Kpoku, Day (Isiekwe 43); Clark (c), Refell (Vailanu 50), Earl.Referee: Ian TempestAttendance: 15,249

Taqele Naiyaravoro was hugely influential

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