One week after finishing top of the Premiership for the first time in their history, Saracens' hopes of claiming silverware this season were ended by a shock 27-13 defeat to Northampton Saints in the play-off semi-final.

The Men in Black were unbeaten at their new Allianz Park home before the game and went into the contest as firm favourites, having completed the season three places and 12 points above their opponents.

But a languid first half display, in which Northampton dominated and scored two tries through Jamie Elliott and Brian Mujati, cost Saracens dear.

GJ Van Velze added another after the break, and though Sarries improved in the second half and crossed the line through Duncan Taylor, it was too little too late to rescue their hopes of making the final.

Sarries started with just one change from the side that beat Bath as Alex Goode returned at full-back. Will Fraser was hopeful of recovering from a shoulder injury in time but the flanker didn’t make it and Andy Saull continued at seven.

Northampton started boldly and could have taken the lead early on but Stephen Myler’s misfortune from the tee began as it ended in the team’s last encounter as he missed two efforts in the opening six minutes.

Samu Manoa looked like a man on a mission with Schalk Brits and Charlie Hodgson both feeling the full brunt of the Saints number eight’s 122kg frame in the opening exchanges, to the extent Hodgson had to replaced by Duncan Taylor before the half was out.

Before then though, a delicious Hodgson pass released Goode and Chris Ashton out wide but the England pair couldn’t work a space to cross the line and danger was averted.

Saints were hungrier, more aggressive and more cohesive than their opponents and their physicality at the breakdown seemed to rattle Saracens who looked rudderless in comparison.

Two tries in four minutes devastated the Men in Black as first Mujati had his put-down confirmed by TMO to give Saints the breakthrough they deserved before Myler converted.

Then, with the away fans’ celebrations just dying down, Manoa clattered Ashton, allowing Dylan Hartley to scoop up and as the ball found went through Christian Day to Elliott, the winger left Steve Borthwick and Hodgson in his wake to score in the corner.

Myler added the conversion and if Sarries’ day couldn’t get any worse three minutes later, Owen Farrell appeared to slip into a late tackle, giving away a penalty which Myler converted to extend Saints’ advantage to 17-0.

Farrell cut a frustrated figure throughout the opening 40 and his half was summed up when he snatched and missed a straightforward conversion just before the half-time whistle blew.

Saracens are no strangers to a heroic comeback or two this season but if they were to haul themselves back into the contest they needed a fast start after half-time.

Two minutes in David Strettle nearly provided it as he looked certain to run the ball home out wide but Ben Foden did well to bring the Sarries winger down and hold him up to prevent the score.

The home side had their tails up though as Saints struggled to replicate the intensity of their first half display.

Farrell too started to play more like a Lions number ten and the youngster kicked two penalties in four minutes before the hour mark to make it 6-17 and give the Men in Black hope.

But those hopes were dented in an instant. Northampton ventured forward for their first meaningful attack of the half and with Lee Dickson allowed to sneak round the blind side, the Saints scrum half found Van Velze who ran the ball home.

Myler did brilliantly to add the conversion from out wide and Saints led 24-6 with 20 minutes left.

The game wasn’t over yet though as Elliott was sent to the sin-bin and Saracens scented an opportunity.

With pressure building and the Saints defence being pulled from one side to the other, Taylor finally found a gap to barge over the line and with Farrell adding the extras, Sarries reduced the deficit to 24-13.

That gap was stretched to 14 though soon after as Myler sent another penalty through the posts, ending Saracens faint hopes of a comeback and ensuring Saints, not Sarries, book a place in the final against Leicester Tigers.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode 14 Chris Ashton 13 Joel Tomkins (Wyles,60) 12 Owen Farrell 11 David Strettle 10 Charlie Hodgson 9 Neil de Kock (Wigglesworth, 49) 1 Mako Vunipola (Gill, 65) 2 Schalk Brits (Smit, 60) 3 Matt Stevens (Nieto, 65) 4 Steve Borthwick (capt) 5 Alistair Hargreaves (Botha, 71) 6 Kelly Brown 7 Andy Saull (Kruis, 49) 8 Jackson Wray

Replacements: 16 John Smit 17 Rhys Gill 18 Carlos Nieto 19 Mouritz Botha 20 George Kruis 21 Richard Wigglesworth 22 Duncan Taylor 23 Chris Wyles

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden 14 Ken Pisi 13 James Wilson 12 Luther Burrell (Waller, 70) 11 Jamie Elliott 10 Stephen Myler 9 Lee Dickson 1 Soane Tonga'uiha (May, 70) 2 Dylan Hartley (capt) 3 Brian Mujati (Mercey, 65) 4 Courtney Lawes (Van Velze, 47) 5 Christian Day 6 Calum Clark (Dowson, 56) 7 Tom Wood 8 Samu Manoa

Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood 17 Alex Waller 18 Tom Mercey 19 Phil Dowson 20 GJ Van Velze 21 Martin Roberts 22 Ryan Lamb 23 Tom May