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Aviva Premiership final: Northampton Saints beat Saracens in extra time
- Friday is D-Day for Hartley
- Borthwick exit upsets Brits
- Sarries fuming at TMO
- McCall tribute to Borthwick
Northampton are champions for the first time after beating Saracens 24-20 in extra time in the Aviva Premiership final.
Saints won a thrilling game with a last minute try by Alex Waller in extra time at Twickenham.
Northampton's victory came just over a week after they had beaten Bath in the European Challenge Cup final and meant double heartbreak for 2011 champions Saracens, who lost to Toulon in the Heineken Cup final last Saturday.
Charlie Hodgson's two penalties after the game finished 14-14 following 80 minutes of fierce combat looked to have seen Saracens home, but Saints had one more attack left in them and replacement forward Waller pounced for a score that Stephen Myler converted.
Owen Farrell earlier kicked three penalties and centre Marcelo Bosch scored a try for Saracens, while Northampton claimed touchdowns for full-back Ben Foden and centre George Pisi, with Myler booting both conversions and landing an extra-time penalty.
A cramped-up Farrell went off in the second half, just 48 hours before he flies to New Zealand and joins England's tour squad.
And he was also at the centre of the game's most controversial moment after he claimed a seemingly-good try that referee J P Doyle concurred with, before Doyle belatedly required a TMO verdict and the try was ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up.
Saracens kept their nerve during most of a frenzied finale, but they ultimately ran out of time.
The opening flurries were tense and riddled with mistakes and, although Northampton dominated in terms of territory, it was Saracens who went ahead when Farrell landed a 35-metre penalty after 11 minutes.
Northampton needed to shake off Saracens' suffocating approach and it arrived 10 minutes before the break when wing Ken Pisi broke free from deep inside his own half.
Saracens had sufficient defensive numbers to thwart the danger, but it proved only a temporary reprieve as Saints capitalised in devastating fashion.
Myler sparked an attack 10 metres out and the finish was devastating as Luther Burrell and Pisi combined to send Foden over, with Myler's conversion putting Northampton 7-6 ahead.
Farrell put Saracens back in front through a 45th-minute penalty, but back came Northampton as they exerted another spell of sustained pressure that stretched their opponents on both flanks.
Saints skipper Dylan Hartley appeared off the bench after 55 minutes for his first outing since suffering a shoulder injury two months ago, suggesting he will be ready to join England's tour party in New Zealand early next week.
And his arrival coincided with Northampton looking to increase the tempo as a tight, tense final approached its final quarter.
Saints possessed a prolific force in North and it was his power and destructive capability that smashed Saracens' defence out wide and set up a chance for the midlanders to pounce.
And Myler did not require a second invitation, as his superbly-placed kick was gathered by Pisi for Northampton's second try that Myler again converted.
Saracens looked to have drawn level with 18 minutes remaining when Farrell finished off a move sparked by Goode and Chris Wyles, but referee Doyle disallowed the try after initially appearing to award it as he belatedly referred matters to television match official Graham Hughes.
It was a defining moment, but one that went in Saints' favour as they closed in on a second piece of silverware in eight days.
But Saracens were not finished and they drew level seven minutes from time after brilliant approach work by hooker Schalk Brits led to a try for Bosch before Hodgson's conversion attempt hit a post.
And it meant the final going to an added 20 minutes for the first time in the event's 12-year existence, with Hodgson's penalty double edging Saracens ahead before Waller provided stunning late drama.
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|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle Falcons|
|15:00||Leicester Tigers vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale Sharks vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Friday 24th April|
|19:45||Bath vs London Irish|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Northampton vs Saracens|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Friday 8th May|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Bath|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Irish|
|15:15||Wasps vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 10th May|
|14:00||Saracens vs Exeter|
|Saturday 16th May|
|15:30||Exeter vs Sale|
|Sunday 8th March|
|Newcastle Falcons 12 - 16 Leicester Tigers|
|Wasps 17 - 26 Saracens|
|Saturday 7th March|
|Gloucester 33 - 33 Northampton|
|Exeter 74 - 19 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 26 - 20 London Irish|
|Friday 6th March|
|Bath 12 - 3 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com