Saracens title reign in tatters as Northampton Saints reach Premiership final

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Saracens title reign in tatters as Northampton Saints reach Premiership final

Northampton Saints reach the 2023-24 Gallagher Premiership final thanks to a 22-20 playoff semi-final victory over reigning champions Saracens.

Reigning Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens have lost their grip on the crown owing to a thrilling 20-22 semi-final loss to the Northampton Saints in Friday’s playoff semi-final.

Enjoying the luxury of a home semi-final at Franklin’s Gardens thanks to their first-placed finish in the regular-season table, the hosts overcame a slow start and survived a late scare to deny Saracens the chance to make it back-to-back crowns in a pulsating encounter.

The boot of Elliot Daly gave the visitors a deserved 6-0 lead early doors, but the holders’ fast start petered out as Burger Odendaal dove over the line in the 19th minute before Fin Smith added the extras.

The latter’s contribution became a theme, as Smith punched the Saints into a healthy lead with three penalties before the break, although Saracens had a lifeline when Alex Lewington latched onto an Owen Farrell kick to score.

Another two Smith penalties established a seemingly unassailable nine-point lead for the hosts, but with just two minutes of normal time remaining, Lucio Cinti Luna found a gap down the left to notch Saracens’ second try, and Daly subsequently cut the deficit down to just two.

However, the champions’ valiant effort came too little too late, as Farrell – en route to French outfit Racing 92 – saw his Saracens career end in heartbreak, alongside Billy Vunipola and Mako Vunipola.

Either the Sale Sharks or Bath Rugby – who square off on Saturday afternoon – will clash with the Saints for Premiership glory in the Twickenham final on June 8.

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