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LV= Cup: George Pisi hat-trick helps Northampton into final
George Pisi scored a hat-trick of tries as Northampton booked their spot in the LV= Cup final with a 26-7 victory over Saracens at Franklin's Gardens.
The hosts raced away from their opponents in the second half, which Saracens had started with a 7-6 lead thanks to Ben Ransom's converted try.
But Sarries' defence could not withstand the pressure after the break as Samoa star Pisi crossed the line three times in the space of 25 minutes.
The Saints will play either Bath or Exeter in the final at Sandy Park next Sunday, while Saracens are left to lick their wounds after a fifth straight semi-final defeat in all competitions.
The home side started well with James Craig getting over the ball to win the first penalty and 20-year-old fly-half Will Hooley made it 3-0 after four minutes before adding another three points soon after.
Saracens eventually fought their way into the game and almost scored when Jack Collins broke down the wing only to be stopped by England full-back Ben Foden, who was making his first start since the end of November.
Young Northampton centre Tom Stephenson limped off early on to be replaced by Stephen Myler with Hooley moving into midfield, and from then on gaps started to appear in the competition's best defence.
The pressure finally told in the 20th minute as Jackson Wray broke off a five-metre scrum to charge to within a metre of the try-line and Ransom then slipped a tackle to touch down. Scrum-half Ben Spencer converted.
Saracens thought they had a second try when Marcelo Bosch stepped through the Northampton line from 10m out but referee Leighton Hodges went to the television match official, who spotted a forward pass from Nils Mordt to Wray in the build-up.
The home side were fortunate and relieved to go into half-time just one point behind as the visitors had failed to convert a number of opportunities to increase the advantage.
And Northampton emerged revitalised in the second half, retaking the lead when Pisi clattered over from close range after two five-metre lineout drives. Hooley missed the simple conversion to leave the home side 11-7 ahead, though Myler made up for it with a drop-goal on 59 minutes.
Pisi claimed a second try after a terrific Saints kick-chase led to a scrum five metres out and quick ball saw the centre charge over from short range on 65 minutes. Hooley again missed the extras.
Saracens almost found a way back in when Charlie Hodgson intercepted a Samu Manoa pass and raced towards the try-line, but Pisi superbly brought him down five metres short.
With two minutes left on the clock the Samoan capped his man-of-the-match display by blasting through on the cut back to score his third try which was converted by Myler.
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|Saturday 31st January|
|14:40||Harlequins vs Bath|
|15:00||Leicester vs Northampton|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Ospreys|
|18:30||Scarlets vs London Irish|
|Sunday 1st February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Cardiff Blues|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Saracens|
|14:30||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Exeter|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th February|
|14:00||Sale Sharks vs Scarlets|
|14:30||Cardiff Blues vs Leicester|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Bath vs Ospreys|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 8th February|
|14:30||Newport Gwent D'gons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Saracens vs Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com