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Highlights & Report | Saints topple Saracens in opener.

Huge results for Saints.

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Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images

Northampton Saints kicked off their Gallagher Premiership campaign with their first win at Allianz Park in three years as they defeated reigning champions Saracens in a see-saw season opener.

In a back-and-forth contest that saw the lead switch six times, Saints scored three tries before the break – David Ribbans, Rory Hutchinson and Henry Taylor all crossing the whitewash – with Saracens only able to send Matt Gallagher over in response.

But the boot of Ben Spencer kept the home scoreboard ticking over and though neither side crossed the whitewash in the second forty it was ultimately a James Grayson penalty that secured the win at the death for Saints. 

Saracens wasted no time getting their first points of the Premiership season – with Spencer knocking over a penalty just two minutes in – before the scrum-half added a second on the 15 minute mark.

But Saints responded well and charging runs from Taqele Naiyaravoro, Alex Coles and then Paul Hill got Saints into Saracens’ 22; and after a period of pressure on the tryline, the men in Black, Green and Gold came away with the first try of the game – David Ribbans the man over the line in his 50th appearance in Saints’ colours.

Grayson made no mistake with the conversion to put Saints ahead, but the lead was short-lived as another Spencer penalty swung the scoreline back Saracens’ way. And the home side stretched that lead just a minute later as Ben Earl snuck through a gap and fed Matt Gallagher for the score.

An important turnover from Coles in Saracens’ territory got Saints back on the front foot though and with Northampton working their way up the pitch, Hutchinson spun and stretched over the line for Saints’ second of the match. 

Grayson’s conversion brought the game back within two and Saints were soon back on the scoresheet again. After scooping up loose ball in their own 22, Grayson hacked the ball downfield and with Collins in chase and Taylor on his shoulder, the wing offloaded to see the scrum-half score Saints’ third against his former side – again Grayson converted and the away side entered the changing room five points in front.

Saints were denied a George Furbank try by the TMO after the break though, and Spencer sent another penalty through the posts to close the gap to two points. Spencer and Grayson exchanged another penalty each before the Saracens kicker added another from the tee to see the home side lead again.

But the scrumhalf’s eighth kick came off the post and when the chance came for Grayson to line up for the sticks in the game’s final minute, the 21-year-old sent the ball sailing through the uprights to see Saints secure their first away win over Saracens in three years.

Match Highlights:

Report from Saints

Premiership

London Irish announce signing of Creevy

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Argentina international Agustin Creevy has agreed to join London Irish with immediate effect.

The former international captain made 89 appearances for Los Pumas, including playing at two Rugby World Cups. His impressive number of international caps ensures that Creevy is currently the most capped Argentinian international player of all time.

Over half of Creevy’s international appearances saw him captain Argentina, proving his leadership qualities on the highest stage.

The hooker’s career has seen him develop his game in France with Biarritz, Clermont and Montpellier before joining Worcester Warriors. More recently, Creevy has been plying his trade with Super Rugby’s Jaguares, helping the Argentinean franchise to the 2019 Super Rugby final.

Creevy’s arrival at London Irish sees the Exiles’ amount of different nationalities grow to 10. The squad currently has players from England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Fiji, Zimbabwe, Samoa, Tonga and now Argentina.

Commenting on the latest addition to the squad, Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby, said: “Agustin comes to London Irish with a fantastic amount of club and international experience.

“Hopefully he can help to continue the journey that the club is on.”

“I am looking forward to joining London Irish and playing in England once again,” explained Creevy.

“Declan spoke very highly of the club, the people and the direction they want to go. I can’t wait to join up with my teammates and to get stuck in.”

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Saracens star signs 2 year extension

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Saracens is delighted to announce Scotland international Sean Maitland has committed his future to the club.

The 31-year-old has penned a two-year contract and will remain in north London until at least 2022.

Maitland has played his part in some of Saracens’ biggest moments over the past four years, scoring crucial tries in last season’s Heineken Champions Cup and Premiership final successes.

In total, the winger has crossed the whitewash 29 times in 73 Sarries appearances and feels at home in NW4.

“I’m very happy to extend my Saracens; it was a bit of a no-brainer for me,” Maitland said.

“My family love it here, we’re settled and I wanted to stayed because I love being here and I love what the club is about and the people that are in it.

“We’re one big family. That comes right from the top, from the owner, into the group and the Academy. We’re all aligned, one big family, and for me that’s important.

Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “Sean has made an outstanding contribution to our club over the last four years both on and off the field.

“He has taken his game to a new level during that time and has had a great influence on some of our younger players. To have a player of Sean’s quality and experience commit his future to the club is a huge boost.”

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Gloucester announce departure of Head Coach Johan Ackermann

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(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Gloucester Rugby today announced the departure of Head Coach Johan Ackermann, who will be joining Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in July.

Gloucester Rugby Chairman Martin St Quinton said “I’d look to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he’s made to the Club over the three seasons he’s been with us. His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans’ favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department. I wish him every success in his new venture.”

David Humphreys, Director of Rugby, added:

“While I’m sorry to see Johan leave Gloucester Rugby, I fully understand his reasons for doing so. Johan approached Martin and me to say that he had received a number of coaching opportunities which, for personal reasons, he would like to consider and we agreed to his request.

In his 3 years at Gloucester, Johan transformed the way we play the game and his “play to inspire” philosophy will leave a lasting impact from his time at the Club. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave Gloucester and I’ve no doubt he’ll make a real difference with the Red Hurricanes in Japan.

Ackermann joined the Cherry and Whites at the start of the 2017/18 season, and took the team to the final of the European Challenge Cup in his first season. The following season ended with the Club in third place in the Premiership, thus qualifying for a second successive season of European Champions Cup rugby.

Johan Ackermann had this message for the Gloucester fans, staff and players: “Being Head Coach of Gloucester Rugby has been a tremendous privilege for me, and I have loved every minute of it. Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience. I would especially like to thank Martin [St Quinton] for the faith that he has shown in me. His support and friendship have meant a lot to me. Gloucester Rugby fans are a truly unique group, and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the Club nothing but the best.”

Gloucester Rugby today announce the departure of Head Coach Johan Ackermann, who will be joining Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in July.

Gloucester Rugby Chairman Martin St Quinton said “I’d look to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he’s made to the Club over the three seasons he’s been with us. His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans’ favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department. I wish him every success in his new venture.”

David Humphreys, Director of Rugby, added:

“While I’m sorry to see Johan leave Gloucester Rugby, I fully understand his reasons for doing so. Johan approached Martin and me to say that he had received a number of coaching opportunities which, for personal reasons, he would like to consider and we agreed to his request.

In his 3 years at Gloucester, Johan transformed the way we play the game and his “play to inspire” philosophy will leave a lasting impact from his time at the Club. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave Gloucester and I’ve no doubt he’ll make a real difference with the Red Hurricanes in Japan.

Ackermann joined the Cherry and Whites at the start of the 2017/18 season, and took the team to the final of the European Challenge Cup in his first season. The following season ended with the Club in third place in the Premiership, thus qualifying for a second successive season of European Champions Cup rugby.

Johan Ackermann had this message for the Gloucester fans, staff and players: “Being Head Coach of Gloucester Rugby has been a tremendous privilege for me, and I have loved every minute of it. Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience. I would especially like to thank Martin [St Quinton] for the faith that he has shown in me. His support and friendship have meant a lot to me. Gloucester Rugby fans are a truly unique group, and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the Club nothing but the best.”

In light of Johan’s departure and the implications arising from Covid-19, The Board of Gloucester Rugby has discussed a new coaching structure for the playing department, and will make an announcement about it once the appropriate consultations have taken place.

In light of Johan’s departure and the implications arising from Covid-19, The Board of Gloucester Rugby has discussed a new coaching structure for the playing department, and will make an announcement about it once the appropriate consultations have taken place.

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