It was a performance fuelled by anger, rather than an expression of intent. Saracens were by far and away the strongest team of the Aviva Premiership last season yet missed out on the silverware largely due to a poor run when the international stars were away. The fact that today’s masterclass from the Saracens Wolfpack still took place without Owen Farrell, Liam Williams and Jamie George reads menacingly for the rest of the competition.
A great result in Round One, to show the depth within the Sarries pack. Furthermore, England hooker Jamie George may struggle to force himself into the starting XV, such was the quality of Schalk Brits’ man of the match performance.
As the Saracens wolfpack devoured a [seemingly] helpless Saints team, the home side’s captain Brad Barritt opened the scoring after 10 minutes. In what only felt like just seconds later, Richard Wigglesworth had extended their lead. Surprisingly, Northampton were beginning to throw the towel in, even with their score sheet reading 24 points.
Alex Lozowski was winning the battle of the ‘young gun pivots’ over Harry Mallinder by far. While Northampton can gain some hope from the fact that Mallinder was playing out of position, and looks much more capable as a centre. A potential partnership with new boy Piers Francis could blossom.
From only a single penalty in the opening 40 minutes, to score three tries in the next 25 minutes, there weren’t many other positives.
Northampton Will Take Little Away From Round One Match
George Kruis left the field early and his replacement, young lock Nick Isiekwe, looked very good. Comparisons with Maro Itoje are possibly over ambitious but it was a strong showing from the Englishman. Kruis’ foot injury will be one concern but he has an able replacement at the ready and more strength in depth to come in the form of Will Skelton and Dominic Day.
As the half continued, Saracens’ dominance did likewise. Sean Maitland was over in the corner after a run from Alex Goode, before Lozowski gave his side the try bonus point after just 24 minutes. Saracens were attacking with devastating potency and Maitland added two more before the break. At 34-3, Northampton could’ve been forgiven for thinking their first-half horror was over.
Yet that was not the case, as South African prop Vincent Koch joined in on the fun. Bundling over for Saracens’ seventh try of the half, his smile was a joy to see. 41-3 was a massive tick in head coach Mark McCall’ action plan for 2017/18. And a great way to expunge the finals result of last season.
Many Saints fans will point to an absence of George North and Cobus Reinach, but Dylan Hartley was unable to inspire them. And the seven tries scored in the first half display (see below) will make for a horror video session on Monday.
Huge First Half Effort By Saracens Wolfpack Humbles Saints Team
In all fairness to Northampton, they managed to muster up some fight scoring three tries in a battling second-half performance. They had the majority of possession and territory and may have done more but it was Saracens who had the last word. Replacement scrum-half Ben Spencer going over for the score – his side’s ninth (NINTH) try of the afternoon.
With the bonus point secured easily, the game did lose some structure late. Replacements were all given a run, and it demonstrated the strength of the North London side. Maitland scoring three tries is impressive enough but the range of players to cross indicates self confidence.
To play so well, without their leading stars – including the Vunipola brothers – speaks volumes of the 2017/18 season.
In all honesty, the full Saracens Wolfpack wasn’t required. It was like an afternoon stroll on a sun-drenched Twickenham pitch.
Saracens 55 – Tries: B Barrit, R Wigglesworth, S Maitland (3), A Lozowski, V Koch, S Britz, B Spencer; Conversions: Lozowski (5)
Northampton Saints 24 – Tries: L Ludlam, T Wood (2); Cons: H Mallinder (3); Penalty: Mallinder.
Embed from Getty Images