Our Aviva Premiership Semi Final round up from Rhiannon Chandler-Day.
Northampton Saints 24 – 29 Saracens
League leaders and winners Northampton Saints sought to defend their title as Aviva Premiership Champions on Saturday and knew they would come up against a resilient Saracens Wolfpack at Franklin’s Gardens and they did.
Sarries stormed from the starting blocks with power, a plan and the physical determination to force the win against Saints; this was evident when Strettle scored early doors. But the rolling maul phenomenon stole the limelight with a handful of stunning surges here, there and everywhere throughout the eighty minutes; this definitely got the adrenaline of all 13,362 in attendance pumping.
The rumbling rolling mauls also added to the score board; Jamie George and Tom Wood both led their teams over to the eruption of ecstatic fans. But really when it came to the crunch – clinical phases of play were the difference between Saints and Sarries.
And it was the boot of Owen Farrell who really stole the show, his boot alone securing Sarries 19 points and when Northampton were penalised in the 77th minute, there was only one thing left to do; for Farrell to seal the deal. And what a world class and immaculate performance it was.
The margin separating these two teams was minuscule and on the day knock-out rugby will always upset one team. Saracens gave it their all, as did Northampton but the visitors determination just edged it on Saturday.
Full Time: Northampton Saints 24-29 Saracens
Bath 47 – 10 Leicester Tigers
As Sarries have cemented their place in the Aviva Premiership final, all eyes turned to the Rec for a sublime showdown between Bath and Leicester Tigers. And what a starting line up it was for Bath. If it looked exciting and frighteningly good on paper … it was even better in real life!
Bath had threats all over the park especially in attack, so it didn’t take long for Matt Banahan to stride down the wing for the first score of the day. The Recâ€™s eruption was electric and it seemed like Tigers were in for a long, hot, sunny afternoon. The second tasty try of the day too came from Banners. It was all rock nâ€™ roll at the Rec.
Did we expect anything less? Of course not!
Onto the third try of the day, this time from Kyle Eastmond who was set up from a perfectly placed chip by Rokoduguni.
Bath were on fire!
Reciprocation came in the form of a late Tom Youngâ€™s try in the first half but there was a large deficit to bridge; were Leicester were already down and out at half-time, 21-10?
Back out and Bath were firing on all cylinders, maintaining the gripping style of rugby that had the Rec on their feet! A roaring Francois Louw ripped through the Tigerâ€™s defence, with remarkable quick offloads to the equally remarkable Peter Stringer, who too crossed for Bath’s fourth try of the day.
With no gas left in the tank for Leicester, Bath pulled the plug completely. Ford crossed over two minutes later and the immense speed and agility of the Bath backs coupled with the fancy foot work of Anthony Watson set up Banners for his hat-trick in the final minutes.
Full Time: Bath 47-10 Saracens
This extraordinary spectacle and seven try surge was a phenomenal team performance from Bath. They hugely deserve their place in the Aviva Premiership Final – I look forward to seeing them in action next week.
What a contest it will be â€¦â€¦ Flags and face paint at the ready…
Stuart Lancaster will have some interesting decisions to make soon.
See you at Twickers!
By Rhiannon Chandler-Day
You can see more from Rhiannon at: http://rhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.uk