Sarries win to close in on Harlequins

05th Mar 2012, 06:51

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Rising highest: James Short

Rising highest: James Short

Saracens cut the gap at the Aviva Premiership summit to just four points after they battled past Northampton 18-12 at Vicarage Road.

Saracens cut the gap at the Aviva Premiership summit to just four points after they battled past Northampton 18-12 at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

Charlie Hodgson booted all eighteen points for the second-placed side as the hosts edged it.
Saracens were looking to put in a positive performance following back-to-back league defeats, while Northampton were in good form following wins over Sale and London Irish.
Both sides have demonstrated their attacking flair this season but conditions this afternoon were poor, meaning it boiled down to a war of attrition between the opposing packs, and a battle of nerves between the two teams' kickers.
Northampton took the lead in the tenth minute courtesy of a straight forward Stephen Myler penalty, but their advantage didn't last long.
Hodgson levelled the score within two minutes, and the hosts were in front soon after when Hodgson was on target again.
At the end of the first quarter Myler missed the opportunity to level the scores for a second time when he skewed his attempt on goal wide, but he made no mistake five minutes from half-time to make it 6-6.
That would have been a fair scoreline heading into the break, but Hodgson's third penalty of the afternoon on 40 minutes gave Saracens a slender advantage.
The second half began in a similar manner to the first as the rain continued to pour.
Two more Hodgson penalties around the 50-minute mark, including one from the touchline, opened up a nine-point lead, but Myler got Saints back to within a converted try with his third successful penalty of the afternoon.
On 63 minutes Hodgson maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot and restored the nine-point advantage, and this time there was to be no late rally from Northampton, with Ryan Lamb's penalty goal for the visitors coming too late to have an impact on the result.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Pen: Hodgson 6

For Northampton:
Pen: Myler 3, Lamb

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Duncan Taylor, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Adam Powell, 11 James Short, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Justin Melck, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 John Smit, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Joel Tomkins, 23 Joe Maddock.

Northampton: 15 Paul Diggin, 14 Vasily Artemyev, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Scott Armstrong, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Calum Clark (c), 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Andy Long, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Referee: Wayne Barnes