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Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints march onto Twickenham with victory over Saracens

17-points from the boot of Fin Smith propelled Northampton Saints into their first Premiership final since 2014, as they down defending champions Saracens

The England fly-half slotted six of his seven kicks at goal, but a try from Burger Odendaal helped steer Phil Dowson’s side to Twickenham with a 22-20 win.

Saracens made the Saints pay for early ill-discipline, as Elliot Daly knocked over the opening points from the tee.

Powerful surges from Curtis Langdon and Alex Coles broke through the Saracens line, however a costly knock-on from George Furbank stopped a promising attack in its tracks.

Saracens came back with a chance of their own. A wonderful break from Daly gave Saracens a great opportunity, and Owen Farrell’s pin-point cross-field kick nearly unlocked the Saints defence, but Juan Martin Gonzalez spilt the ball after an awkward landing.

Saracens kept the pressure on though, and it allowed Daly to add three more points to the tally.

A poor kick from Luciano Cinti gifted Northampton a lifeline back into the game, which they gleefully took. A lovely half-break from George Furbank drew in the Saracens defence, which created a gap for Burger Odendaal to charge home for their opening try.

Saracens thought they regained the lead through Jamie George, however his try was ruled out for offside.

Strong defence from the Saints kept Saracens pinned in their own half, and it eventually allowed Fin Smith to give his side a four-point lead from the tee.

Things were starting to go Northampton’s way now. A knock-on from Owen Farrell was compounded with a string of penalties, giving Smith another easy penalty.

In the latter stages of the half, Smith added one final penalty to give his side a 10-point lead at the break.

Saints hold on to book spot in final

Credit: IMAGO

Northampton again created some half-chances at the start of the second-half. The best came through a Furbank break, but a clever steal from Billy Vunipola brought the promising attack to a close.

Saracens needed a moment of magic to get over the Northampton defence, step forward Farrell. The Paris-bound fly-half wriggled his way through the Northampton defence, and he put through a cheeky grubber kick to allow Alex Lewington to dot down in the corner.

Northampton nearly responded with some football of their own. A wonderful volley from Ollie Sleightholme got him in behind the Saracens defence, however following two more grubbers the ball rolled out of play.

The Saints kept the pressure on though, and nearly extended their lead through Alex Mitchell; but a spectacular tackle from Gonzalez denied the scrum-half a lovely solo effort.

They didn’t have to wait long to extend their lead though, as Smith knocked over his fourth penalty of the game. They could have added another try too, but a costly penalty in the breakdown gave Saracens an easy reprieve.

A misplaced lineout from the defending champions gifted Northampton possession in their half, however a good tackle from Farrell brough another promising attack to a halt as Smith knocked on.

Yet more Saracens inaccuracies allowed Northampton to set up camp in their half, which in turn allowed Smith to extend the lead to nine points.

Saracens weren’t going away without a fight though, as Cinti crossed out wide. Quick hands through their backline found the Puma in space on the right wing, and he made no mistake with the finish.

Daly’s conversion set up a nervy finish, however staunch defence from Courtney Lawes secured Northampton’s spot in the big dance.

Northampton Saints 22-20 Saracens

Northampton Saints: 22

Tries: Odendaal

Conversions: Smith (1/1)

Penalties: Smith (5/6)

Saracens: 18

Tries: Lewington

Conversions: Daly (1/1)

Penalties: Daly (2/2)