Premiership – Northampton Saints 45-26 Bath – Hosts score six tries in victory
Northampton moved up to third in the Premiership, scoring four second-half tries to beat bottom club Bath 45-26.
Tom De Glanville and Tom Dunn traded tries with Robbie Smith and Juarno Augustus, before Fin Smith’s penalty put the hosts just ahead at half-time.
Angus Scott-Young and a double from Robbie Smith earned Saints a bonus point as Dunn also got his second.
Tom Collins and James Grayson secured the win, while Tom Doughty’s try ensured Bath went away with a point.
The hosts went into the match looking to bounce back from a walloping 62-8 loss to Bristol and director of rugby Phil Dowson made eight changes for the visit of the Premiership’s bottom side.
Against the run of play, De Glanville put Bath ahead eight minutes in. The full-back started the attack by collecting a Saints kick, side-stepped and back-handed the ball to Miles Reid, before racing back onto Josh Bayliss’ shoulder to swallow dive over the line.
Robbie Smith replied for Northampton from a driving maul after a poor box kick gifted them territory and possession, and Augustus then put them in front with a canny try as Saints set up a dummy drive from a maul, allowing the number eight to break away and power over.
But when prop Paul Hill was sent to the bin for infringing a Bath tap and go penalty, the visitors instantly levelled, kicking to the corner from which Dunn went over from a maul.
Bath have not won in seven matches in all competitions and looked like a team not in the habit of winning. With Hill in the bin, three times they came within five metres – only to turn over the ball the first time, drop it the second and lose a scrum the third.
Their injury woes were also compounded as centre Jonathan Joseph was replaced just before the break after an awkward tackle, having confirmed just before kick-off that back-rower Alfie Barbeary is unlikely to play again this season and needs knee surgery after going off on his debut against Leicester last weekend.
After a tight first-half, momentum continued Northampton’s way; Scott-Young crossed from close range and with Bayliss shown a yellow card for a collision in the air, Robbie Smith got his second of the night from a maul earning his side the bonus point.
Dunn narrowed the deficit to 12 points from close range but the Saints’ backs were gradually unleashed, with Collins tapping down a kick-through from Tommy Freeman on his 100th appearance for the club.
Dunn’s replacement Doughty followed in his captain’s lead, scoring from a maul for Bath’s fourth try to put them level on points with Newcastle, but it was too late for a comeback as Grayson added the extras for Northampton late on.
Northampton Saints director of rugby Phil Dowson told BBC Radio Northampton:
“We asked for a reaction and response after the disappointment of last week and I thought that was an excellent answer for that, and I was really proud of the effort both throughout the week and in the game.
“Sometimes in sport you get your confidence knocked and you’ve got to get back on the horse and go and run at it and make sure you’re all set up.
“I think we probably started the game a little bit anxious but we soon found our feet and were flying around.”
Bath director of rugby Johann van Graan told BBC Radio Bristol:
“I thought we started the game well with that first try and then we kicked the ball straight up into the air and conceded a penalty.
“The tough one was the penalty that we conceded for the second try whilst running back with no pressure.
“I thought half-time, 17-14 in it, we speak about our discipline and from 40-60 minutes that killed the game off.
“Two things I’ll say – discipline again unfortunately and soft moments [cost us].
“The positive is there’s fight, the only thing I’m happy about is the try bonus point and we’ve picked up two the last two weekends which at least puts us one point each week up away from home.”
Northampton: Ramm; Collins, Proctor, Dingwall (c), Freeman, F Smith, James; A Waller, R Smith, Hill, Salakaia-Loto, Moon, Scott-Young, Graham, Augustus.
Replacements: Cruse, E Waller, Petch, Nansen, Matavesi, Braley, Grayson, Hutchinson.
Sin bin: Hill (23)
Bath: De Glanville; Hamer-Webb, Joseph, Ojomoh, Gallagher, Bailey, Schreuder; Obano, Dunn (c), Rae, Attwood, Van Velze, Bayliss, Cloete, Reid.
Replacements: Doughty, Schoeman, Jonker, McNally, W Spencer, B Spencer, Butt, De Carpentier.
Sin bin: Bayliss (51)
Referee: Jack Makepeace