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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 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:00||Bath vs Exeter|
|14:00||Sale vs Leicester|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|16:30||Harlequins vs Northampton|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com