Northampton 30-8 Saracens

Northampton (27) 30

Tries:
Dickson, Pisi, Dowson
Cons:
Lamb 3
Pens:
Lamb 2
Drop-goals:
Lamb

Saracens (3) 8

Tries:
Joubert
Pens:
Farrell
Lee Dickson
Lee Dickson was at the heart of Saints' blistering first-half performance

Northampton banished memories of their recent Heineken Cup disappointments with a resounding Premiership win over champions Saracens.

The Saints tore into Sarries at a furious pace from the start and the game was essentially over at the break.

Lee Dickson, George Pisi and Phil Dowson tries, in addition to 12 points from the boot of Ryan Lamb, gave the hosts a commanding half-time lead.

Sarries continued to toil before Ernst Joubert got a late consolation try.

Northampton, coming into the game after back-to-back European defeats, exploded into the game and were soon ahead after Dickson's cover tackle snuffed out an early David Strettle chance.

The Saints scrum-half, on his 100th club appearance, rounded off an irresistible passage of play that started with Ben Foden in his own 22 and saw forwards and backs combining before the number nine darted over from five yards to score.

Lamb converted but after Sarries had been humiliated at the opening scrum they took their revenge to win a 24-metre penalty which Owen Farrell squeezed inside the upright.

The following scrum saw Saints win the penalty and Lamb restored his team's seven-point lead.

Lamb looked to have butchered a gilt-edged chance with a wayward miss-pass but after Pisi took James Downey's offload the Samoan produced a sublime step, that left Strettle on his back, to scamper over unchallenged.

Farrell pushed his second penalty wide and his opposite number made him pay with a 35-metre drop-goal on 22 minutes to give the hosts a 17-point lead.

Saints were winning the breakdown battle and a series of pulverising mauls ended with Dowson's touch down for their third try.

Lamb again converted and Sarries rallied but rarely ventured out of their own half.

After the break the visitors continued to struggle and scrum-half Ben Spencer spurned their best opportunity when he ran into Mouritz Botha five metres out.

Saints were always one step ahead and Lamb extended their lead to 27 points with a 55th-minute penalty.

Sarries repeatedly opted against three points on the hour mark but they could not break through with Saints' back row reading their patterns with ease.

Northampton probed for the bonus-point score, with the best chance falling to Pisi but his pass was wayward.

To the champions' credit they never gave up and were rewarded at the death when Joubert went in for a try in the corner.

POST-MATCH VIEWS

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder tells BBC Radio Northampton:

Mallinder hails response to defeats

"We're really disappointed with the last two weeks so I'm pleased we could win like that.

"Lee Dickson was excellent, he was everywhere, our forwards fronted up and our defence was very strong as well. George Pisi got chucked into full-back last week so today, back at outside centre, he had a very good game.

"What I've been really pleased about is how the lads have reacted. Particularly with the England lads and the press, it's been no distraction to them at all."

Saracens head coach Mark McCall said:

"I'm very disappointed. Everything that could go wrong in the first half went wrong.

"For the first try we missed three or four tackles on Ben Foden and they went away and scored.

"We did not react to that setback and you can't do that against a side as good as Northampton.

"The game was done and dusted by half time but we regrouped well and did well to deprive them of a bonus point. We could have easily folded."

LINE-UPS

Northampton: Foden; Ashton, Pisi, Downey, Elliott; Lamb, Dickson; Tonga'uiha, Hartley (capt), Doran-Jones; Lawes, Sorenson; Dowson, Wood, Wilson.

Replacements: Myler for Lamb (63), Roberts for Dickson (59), A. Waller for Tonga'uiha (59), Haywood for Hartley (68), Mujati for Doran-Jones (53), Manoa for Lawes (63), Nutley for Wilson (68).

Not Used: Clarke.

Saracens: Goode; Strettle, Wyles, Barritt, Short; Farrell, Spencer; Gill, Smit, Nieto; Borthwick (capt), Botha; Brown, Burger, Joubert.

Replacements: Powell for Strettle (52), Taylor for Short (77), Baldwin for Spencer (64), Carstens for Gill (52), George for Smit (59), Stevens for Nieto (41), Kruis for Botha (52), Wray for Brown (59).

Att: 13,402

Ref: Dave Pearson (RFU).

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