Unhappy start to the new year for Saints as Saracens deliver big second-half showing
Alex Lozowski racked up 20 points as Saracens put another spanner in the Saints works with a 30-6 win at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday afternoon.
Chris Boyd's side were desperate to get 2022 off to a winning start after three successive defeats to end the previous calendar year, but Saracens refused to budge in a big defensive display.
Saints did have plenty of chances in the opposition 22 during the first 40 minutes, forcing a string of penalties from the away side.
But there was no way through for the black, green and gold, who only had two Dan Biggar penalties to show for their first-half efforts as they headed in at half-time level at 6-6.
Saracens struck early in the second period as Lozowski spotted a gap in the home defence and made the most of it to score.
And try as they might, Saints could not find a way back, struggling to come up with any solutions against a stubborn Saracens rearguard.
Tom Woolstencroft and Maro Itoje put the icing on the cake with tries towards the end as Saracens cruised to victory.
It means Saints' top-four bid has taken another big hit, with Boyd's side having slipped from third to sixth over the course of two matches.
And it doesn't get any easier with a tricky Gallagher Premiership game at Newcastle Falcons up next.
Saints had hoped they could travel to Kingston Park on the back of some much-needed new year cheer, but Saracens took an early lead at the Gardens thanks to Lozowski's penalty.
Saints quickly levelled things up through the boot of Biggar after Ben Earl was penalised for failing to release.
But the home side lost Piers Francis to injury just eight minutes into his return and the centre was visibly upset as he headed down the tunnel.
Saints weren't deterred and they started to put some pressure on Saracens, with the likes of George Furbank and Biggar flying into space.
A penalty was kicked to the corner in an ambitious move, but Saracens defended the lineout drive well and they held out.
Saints won a penalty at the scrum as they sought to keep Saracens penned in but as the rain poured down, the men in red were still doing just enough to frustrate their hosts.
Saracens had a chance to take the lead when Lozowski lined up another penalty, but the centre sent his kick wide.
Lozowski soon made amends with a successful penalty but Saints were playing well, enjoying plenty of attacks in the Saracens 22.
The men in red were conceding penalty after penalty, with Saints constantly opting for the scrum rather than taking the simple three points.
But that tactic didn't pay off as Saracens resisted a long period of pressure and won a scrum penalty to escape.
Saints got another chance though, earning yet another penalty, with Biggar finally going for goal, and landing the kick with ease to level things up again.
But Saracens were able to go in at half-time all square despite having little attacking possession, and they soon struck in the second period.
Saints were cut apart and Lozowski dived over for a crucial score before getting up to slot the conversion.
The next 10 minutes were full of huff and puff but Saracens were starting to play the game in the Saints half.
The home side couldn't seem to make any progress upfield and after Ollie Sleightholme was penalised, Lozowski extended the lead to 10 points with little more than 20 minutes to go.
Saints were banging their heads against a red wall, which was refusing to move an inch as Saracens looked to be more than comfortable as they sought to see the game out.
With the match drifting away from them, Saints lost Conor Carey to the sin bin for collapsing a maul as Saracens piled on the pressure from a lineout drive deep in the 22.
And from their very next attempt, the away side scored, with replacement hooker Woolstencroft the beneficiary.
Lozowski converted and it was Saracens voices that were heard at the Gardens as some home fans made their way to the exit.
Saracens were to score again before the end as a maul splintered and Itoje picked up before powering over the line.
Lozowski maintained his fine record from the tee as he put some extra gloss on the scoreline.
Saints: Furbank; Sleightholme (Tuala 73), Hutchinson, Francis (Dingwall 9), Skosan; Biggar, Mitchell (James 71); Waller (Iyogun 57), Matavesi (FIsh 69), Hill (Carey 64); Coles (Ribbans 44), Ratuniyarawa; Lawes, Ludlam (c), Augustus (Wood 57).
Saracens: Malins (Manu Vunipola 75); Maitland (Segun 63), Lozowski, Tompkins, Daly; Goode, van Zyl (de Haas 68); Mako Vunipola, George (c) (Woolstencroft 63), Beaton (Milasinovich 56); Itoje, Isiekwe; McFarland (Hunter-Hill 66), Earl, B Vunipola (Wray 40).
Referee: Adam Leal