Saracens: ‘Masterful’ Owen Farrell lauded for guiding side to Premiership final
Owen Farrell’s finest two moments in a sumptuous performance were somehow left unrewarded in Saracens’ 38-15 Premiership semi-final victory over Northampton.
First the England fly-half scythed the Saints line with consummate ease, before floating a wide pass to Sean Maitland. The Scotland wing looked for all the world that he would complete a hat-trick, only to cut inside for the chance evaporate.
Then the 31-year-old unleashed the mother of all spiral bombs, so bamboozling that George Furbank lost the ball in the air and visibly gave up the ghost. The ball bounced dead, leaving Furbank wiping his brow and Farrell sporting a wry smile.
The only reward that counted in the end of course was Saracens’ compelling five-try victory, that sets up their tilt for a sixth Premiership title in the club’s ninth final on May 27.
Mark McCall would be the last man in rugby prone to overemphasis, so when the Saracens boss pulled out the superlatives to characterise Farrell’s performance, the talisman playmaker’s showing was somehow elevated still further.
“I think he’s so controlled in his game it’s not funny,” said McCall.
“You saw how he attacked, and he defended as well as anybody, he just had control of the game. I thought he was masterful.”
Sean Maitland avoided a possible red card for an aerial collision with George Furbank just 28 seconds into this full-blooded Premiership semi-final at StoneX Stadium. The Scotland wing then raced in for two fine scores, before Ivan Van Zyl and Max Malins crossed either side of a penalty score.
Alex Mitchell and James Ramm made it interesting with scores for Saints, but the visitors were comfortably outmatched. Farrell pinged all four conversions and his sole penalty shot to boot, leaving Saracens purring ahead of a final against either Leicester or Sale.
“I thought we were really physical and controlled, we were able to combine calmness and composure with being unbelievably aggressive and physical and that's a good place to be,” said McCall.
“I thought it was our strongest defensive performance for years. It’s always been the DNA of the club and that’s as good as we’ve been for a while to be honest.
“That laid the foundation for the victory and the performance. We were physical and got control of a very good attacking team. The players felt in control.”
Exquisite, Owen Farrell! ✨
Tremendous @Saracens patience before an export nudge from the captain for Sean Maitland to score.#GallagherPrem pic.twitter.com/fA6ggbQ3Hd
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) May 13, 2023
Maitland avoiding a card for his airborne collision with Furbank polarised opinion generally, but McCall was confident the officials made the right call – and Saints boss Phil Dowson offered a phlegmatic response.
“The referee didn’t give it, it was a collision in the air,” said Dowson. “I presume the TMO looked at it and made a decision that it was a rugby contest and therefore play on.
“We’ll have to look at it again. I don’t know where Maitland was looking. I don’t know where he was in conjunction with the ball in the air. But whether I agree with it or not is irrelevant.”