Premiership: Saracens 55-24 Northampton Saints

Sean Maitland
Scotland international Sean Maitland scored a hat-trick of tries in the first half
Aviva Premiership
Saracens (41) 55
Tries: Barritt, Wigglesworth, Maitland 3, Lozowski, Koch, Brits, Spencer Cons: Lozowski 4, Spencer
Northampton Saints (3) 24
Tries: Ludlam, Wood 2 Cons: Mallinder 3 Pens: Mallinder

European champions Saracens began their 2017-18 Premiership campaign in style with a convincing nine-try thrashing of Northampton Saints at Twickenham.

Sean Maitland scored a first-half hat-trick with further tries coming from Brad Barritt, Richard Wigglesworth, Alex Lozowski and Vincent Koch.

Schalk Brits and Ben Spencer added more tries for Saracens in the second half.

Lewis Ludlam scored for Northampton with Tom Wood also crossing twice, but Saints missed out on a bonus point.

Saracens lost in the Premiership play-off semi-finals last season, but won the European Champions Cup for a second successive year, while Northampton came seventh domestically - their lowest league finish since the 2008-09 campaign.

It only took Saracens 11 minutes to make the breakthrough, which came with a simple score from Barritt after Koch had forced his way past the Saints defence.

Wigglesworth finished off a team move a minute later, before Maitland grabbed his first try after a thrilling cross-field move and Lozowski secured the four-try bonus-point after only 29 minutes when he finished off after fine work from the excellent Brits.

The 36-year-old South African, who says he will retire from rugby at the end of the season, was again involved in the build-up to try five as he showed his skills before timing a pass perfectly for Maitland to go over for his second.

His third try, and Saracens' sixth, came in the 34th minute when he benefited from sloppy Saints play with Koch powering over just before the break and Saracens holding a 41-3 lead at half-time.

Northampton performed better at the start of the second half as Ludlam crossed inside four minutes of the restart, but Saracens scored again soon after with Brits getting a well-deserved try.

Tom Wood scored twice for Saints but any thoughts of a fightback were ended with Saracens' ninth try, courtesy of replacement Spencer, to seal a fantastic performance from the European champions.

The only negative for Saracens was an injury for lock George Kruis, who was part of the Lions side for the Test series with New Zealand, but went off after only 15 minutes after struggling with a foot injury.

Schalk Brits
Schalk Brits scored Saracens eighth try of the match against Northampton Saints

Saracens boss Mark McCall on Schalk Brits: "He's Peter Pan. He's an explosive athlete and his athleticism hasn't gone away. His body is sore after games, but it was a stunning performance today - he was incredible.

"This is his ninth season at the club and he's been a star from day one. He seems to save all of his best performances for Twickenham. He's a phenomenal player and hopefully we can give him a really good send off this year."

Asked if Brits could yet play beyond next summer, McCall replied: "That's a decision he has made; he will be 37 next year so we will see."

On George Kruis, who went off injured in the first half, McCall added: "He had such a disruptive time last season, he couldn't string four or five games together because of injuries but did so well to get on the Lions tour off the back of that disjointed season.

"Fingers crossed it's not as serious as it looks at the moment."

Northampton Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder said: "It's infuriating, it's embarrassing, it's disappointing.

"You think you prepare properly and you think we had a good pre-season. We thought we were ready for it, but clearly we weren't. The first half, Saracens were clinical.

"Next week is big for us. We need to be better. We have played in some big games against Leicester but next week is massive. It's vital for us that we get a win and get our season going."

Saracens: Goode; Maitland, Taylor, Barritt (capt), Earle; Lozowski, Wigglesworth; Barrington, Brits, Koch, Day, Kruis, Itoje, Burger, Wray.

Replacements: Spurling, Thompson-Stringer, Figallo, Isiekwe, Rhodes, Spencer, Bosch, Wyles.

Northampton: Tuala; Foden, Tuitavake, Burrell, Collins; Mallinder, Groom; Waller, Hartley (capt), Brookes, Lawes, Day, Wood, Ludlam, Eadie.

Replacements: Haywood, Ma'afu, Hill, Ribbans, Gibson, Mitchell, Grayson, Pisi.

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