Saracens lost their first match in England this season after going down 19-3 at Northampton Saints in the LV Anglo Welsh Cup this afternoon.

The visitors were always up against it facing a strong Saints side and, with one eye on the midweek South Africa match at Wembley, were second best throughout. Alex Goode’s penalty handed them a brief lead but tries from Chris Ashton and Bruce Reihana condemned them to only their second defeat under Brendan Venter.

Prop Kasiano Lealamanua was handed his debut and second row George Kruis also made his first appearance for the Men in Black. After coming off the bench last week, wing James Short started his first match and Goode was given an opportunity to impress at fly half. Ethienne Reynecke took the captaincy while Richard Haughton made a rare start at full-back.

The Saints were given an early chance to take the lead but, in difficult windy conditions, Stephen Myler sent his penalty wide. Sarries were awarded their first penalty midway through a scrappy half and Goode kept his composure to boot the visitors into the lead.

Northampton came to life in the 24th minute when they scored from the first decent move of the match. Ben Foden picked up the ball before charging his way into Saracens’ half and the England back’s kick landed perfectly for Ashton to touch the ball down. Myler struggled again with the blustery weather and was unable to add the conversion.

Myler’s frustrations continued as the game edged towards the break with the fly half missing a straight forward penalty. The wintry conditions were playing havoc with the players in a match dominated by handling errors.

The visitors suffered a setback heading into half-time when Tom Mercey, a blood replacement for Carlos Nieto, was sinbinned for infringing at the breakdown. Myler finally found the target with the penalty to extend their lead.

Northampton benefited from more indiscipline from Saracens straight after the restart and Myler punted over the penalty which made it 10-3. The Men in Black received a penalty immediately afterwards but Goode’s effort was not even close to finding the target.

The Saints scored their second try in the 56th minute which put them well clear of the Guinness Premiership leaders. Reihana started the move with a surging run into the 22 and he picked up the ball several phases later to dive over the line. Myler’s conversion went wide but the hosts still led 16-3.

With their hopes of a result fading, Venter introduced England Under-20 hooker Jamie George for his debut. But the visitors were still camped inside their own half and another Myler penalty fired the Saints to another three points.

Northampton: Foden, Ashton, Clarke (Ansbro, 74), Downey, Reihana, Myler, Dickson (Dickens, 74); Tonga’uiha, Sharman (Gray, 73), Bonorino (Vickers, 69), Day, Kruger, Dowson, Gray, Wilson (Hopley, 73)

Saracens: Haughton, Cato, Penney, Sorrell, Short, Goode, Barrett; Lealamanua (Gill, 50), Reynecke (George, 67), Nieto, Kruis, Botha, Barrell, Saull, Wray

Scoring sequence: 0-3, 5-3, 8-3, 11-3, 16-3, 19-3

Referee: Gwyn Morris

Attendance: 12,037