Strettle double seals Saracens' win over Saints

London (AFP) –


Veteran wing David Strettle showed he had plenty left in the tank as his two late tries saw English Premiership champions Saracens complete a 38-27 win away to Northampton on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, in his second spell with the London club after a three-year stint with French side Clermont, struck twice in just three minutes at Franklin's Gardens, while Alex Lewington crossed twice in the first half.

Ben Spencer also scored a try for Saracens as they made light of yellow cards for England forwards Jamie George and Billy Vunipola.

The Saints hit back with tries from Piers Francis, England captain Dylan Hartley and Ben Franks but could not prevent Saracens recording a bonus-point win.

"We are absolutely thrilled to win and to get five points," said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.

As for former England international Strettle's try double, McCall said: "Dave is a beautiful athlete. If you wanted to be a runner, that's the way you want to run."

- Hartley 'on the way back' -

Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd was encouraged by the form of New Zealand-born hooker Hartley, continuing his return after five months on the sidelines with concussion.

"Dylan is well on the way back to blowing his lungs out and knocking his body around," Boyd said. "I think he will get better as he beds himself back into playing. He did a brilliant job for us."

Meanwhile Exeter, beaten in last season's Premiership final by Saracens, also made it three wins from three this term with a 35-18 victory at home to Sale.

Santiago Cordero, Jack Maunder, Jonny Hill, Tom Lawday and Alex Cuthbert all scored tries for the Chiefs, with Joe Simmonds converting three and Gareth Steenson two after Exeter had suffered the double blow of losing Test back-rows Matt Kvesic and Sam Simmonds to illness.

"I'm very pleased with the result as we had nine changes from last week's win, two of them forced upon us very late in the day," said Exeter boss Rob Baxter.

Bath enjoyed their first win of the season, a 37-32 success away to Harlequins, with wing Joe Cokanasiga scoring two key tries.

The 20-year-old, a pre-season signing from London Irish, scored a try in each half and Bath boss Todd Blackadder, a former New Zealand international, said: "I thought he (Cokanasiga) was sensational today, just brilliant."

Elsewhere, Newcastle moved off the bottom of the table with a 23-20 win away to Worcester.

Scrum-half Sonatane Takulua and wing Sinoti Sinoti both scored tries for Newcastle which, importantly, were each converted by Toby Flood, with the former England fly-half also kicking three penalties.

Newcastle were only 14-10 ahead at the break, with both George McGuigan and Johnny Williams in the sin-bin, and director of rugby Dean Richards said: "We challenged the boys at half-time to go out and score.

"Sure enough within three minutes, we took three points which, for us, was a really important three points in terms that we wouldn't be bullied when we are down to 13 men," the former England No 8 added.