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Sky Sports: Match Review

Sky review

Northampton took inspiration from FA Cup heroes Wigan in an Aviva Premiership match watched by millions on Sky Sports. Reminding people that favourites don’t always come out on top, Northampton beat Saracens 27 – 13 to make it to the Aviva Premiership final. Inspired by Wigan’s performance in the FA Cup and determined not to re-live their own Heineken Cup nightmare, Northampton showed Sky customers just what they were capable of. Wigan overcame the odds to beat Manchester City at Wembley, and Northampton’s director of rugby Jim Mallinder used that as evidence that anything can be possible, even for the underdogs. The match, played out at Allianz Park and beamed across the country to Sky Sports subscribers, saw Northampton make a strong 17 – 0 lead by half time thanks to tries by Brian Mujati and Jamie Elliott. But bearing in mind that, just two years ago, they led Leinster 22 – 6 at half time in the Heineken Cup final, they did not become complacent. Two penalties from Owen Farrell gave Saracens hope of a comeback, but a try from GJ Van Velze for Northampton effectively sealed the deal. A consolation try for Saracens came from Duncan Taylor, but to no avail as the Saints left the pitch to march to Twickenham. "They (Saracens) finished first and we were fourth. They were unbeaten here and we hadn't beaten them all season,” said Mallinder. "We hadn't beaten a top three team and they clearly were the favourites today. "But the favourites don't always win. I had a number of people reminding me of that after the Wigan-Manchester City game yesterday.” The season has been one of ups and downs, he continued, and the team has received a lot of criticism, a lot of it rightly, along the way. Northampton has not beaten a top three team all season, but players have responded and know they are good enough, Mallinder added. The Heineken Cup defeat was not mentioned during the half-time break, but clearly it was on everyone’s minds. For Tom Wood it was a clear motivator for the second half. "We talked about that at half-time, that 'we have been in this position before and let it slip’ so it was a huge motivation and it was on our minds," Wood said. "We knew the next score was going to be crucial. We knew there would be a reaction and we did let them into the game a little bit.”

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