Northampton moved up to fourth in the table with a comprehensive 30-8 victory over second-placed Saracens at the Gardens.
Northampton moved up to fourth in the table with a comprehensive 30-8 victory over second-placed Saracens at Franklin's Gardens.
The opening five minutes were competitive as both sides wrestled to gain the upper hand but it was the Saints who took the lead with eight minutes on the clock and they never looked back.
After Ben Foden took a high ball in his own twenty-two and broke a few tackles, Northampton attacked down the left wing before switching the ball to the right and creating space for scrum-half Lee Dickson to score on his 100th appearance for the club.
Owen Farrell and Ryan Lamb then registered three points apiece after their respective forwards had won penalties in the opposition twenty-two.
Northampton were the dominant side though and were unlucky not to add a second try through Chris Ashton after a great break from the base of the scrum from Roger Wilson and Dickson.
They did go 17-3 ahead soon afterwards though through Samoan centre George Pisi, who sidestepped a couple of Saracens defenders with ease.
Ten minutes before half-time the Saints really went in for the kill as they spurned three points to kick to the corner and after a strong catch and drive from Courtney Lawes and friends, Phil Dowson touched down to give them their reward.
At 27-3 down, Saracens came out fighting in the second half but were unable to turn possession into points and on 55 minutes it was Lamb who recorded the first points of the half for Northampton from a simple penalty in front of the posts.
The match was scrappy and stop-start thereafter as the Saints strived in vain to secure a bonus point with a fourth try.
They probably should have done so, such was their dominance at times, but it was Saracens who finished the scoring with a consolation try from Ernst Joubert right on the stroke of full-time.
This was most certainly Northampton's night though as they showed their intent and ability to compete for an end of season playoff berth and inflicted only a third Premiership defeat of 2011 on their opponents.
Tries: Dickson, Dowson, Pisi
Cons: Lamb 3
Pens: Lamb 2
15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Vas Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Steve Myler, 23 Jon Clarke.
15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 George Kruis, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Adam Powell, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Referee: Dave Pearson