Saracens provisionally moved to the top of the Aviva Premiership standings thanks to a 16-6 victory over Northampton Saints on Saturday.
Saracens provisionally moved to the top of the Premiership standings thanks to a 16-6 victory over Northampton at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium in this top-of-the-table clash as defences dominated and there aren't many better when it comes to rearguard actions than Saracens.
The match began brightly but, after Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler had exchanged penalties early on, injuries to Myler and Courtney Lawes in quick succession derailed the Saints somewhat.
And the visitors took full advantage as they launched an explosive counter-attack from deep which resulted in Joel Tomkins feeding Alex Goode to score and give his side a 10-3 lead at the break.
A further injury to another of England's leading men, Dylan Hartley, didn't help the home side's cause either and Northampton struggled to find any kind of potency or cutting edge as Sarries just became more defiant and determined in defence as the game wore on.
Replacement Ryan Lamb traded penalties with Farrell at the start of the second half but, despite the added flair and unpredictability that he usually brings to the Saints' backline, he wasn't able to create too many holes in the opposition defence.
Prior to the game, Saracens had conceded just five tries in the Premiership and that statistic remained the same after the final whistle as the meanest and stingiest defence in the league showed all of its tenacity to keep their opponents at bay.
Northampton brought on the likes of Brian Mujati, Alex Waller and Luther Burrell during the course of the second half as they looked to batter the visitors into submission but they did not succeed.
In fact, another three points from Farrell extended the margin of victory to ten points before the end, denying the Saints a losing bonus point and sealing a win that sends Saracens to the top of the table, for the time being at least.
Pens: Myler, Lamb
Pens: Farrell 3
Northampton: 15 Stephen Myler, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ Van Velze, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Tom May, 23 Luther Burrell.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Alan Hughes
Television match official: David John Hudson