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Match Report: Northampton Saints 45 – 26 Bath Rugby

Northampton Saints responded to last weekend’s heavy defeat in style with a six-try rout of Bath Rugby to surge back into third place in the Gallagher Premiership standings.

It was two tries apiece at the interval as scores for Robbie Smith and Juarno Augustus were cancelled out by Tom de Glanville and Tom Dunn, meaning a Fin Smith penalty was all that separated the sides at 17-14.

But the men in Black, Green and Gold surged clear after the break, with man-of-the-match Robbie Smith adding a second try to his tally along with scores for Angus Scott-Young, Tom Collins and James Grayson.

FIRST HALF

Saints were straight onto the front foot as Collins claimed the kick-off, but Freeman could not quite gather Fin Smith’s pass and Bath cleared their lines. The hosts came close again moments later as Fraser Dingwall burst through the midfield and released Augustus down the left wing, but his offload was knocked on by Tom James just five metres out.

Bath then opened the scoring against the run of play with a sizzling try down the right wing; de Glanville offloaded to Miles Reid, and after Josh Bayliss put his foot on the accelerator, the fullback was back on his shoulder to score.

Ben Spencer’s conversion from out wide was good, but Northampton answered in clinical fashion in the 14th minute, with Robbie Smith rumbling rumbling over at the back of a rolling maul after Bath conceded a penalty on the 22.

And another five-metre lineout brought a similar result with 19 minutes played; Augustus broke away from the drive and held off two defenders to wrestle his way across the whitewash. Two successful conversions for Fin Smith made it 14-7.

However, Paul Hill saw yellow on 24 minutes for not retreating ten metres following a quick-tap penalty, and immediately Dunn broke away from a maul for Bath’s second try to level the scores via Orlando Bailey’s conversion.

Saints’ defence weathered the storm while a man down for the next ten minutes, and once back to a full complement, Bath were pinged for offside and Fin Smith sent Northampton ahead again with his third successful kick.

SECOND HALF

Alex Waller seared through a gap at the start of the second 40 from a clever delayed pass by Fin Smith, forcing a penalty from Bath for not rolling away, and while two lineout drives were stopped another tap-and-go penalty brought a try from Scott-Young from short range.

Bayliss then saw yellow as the penalty count mounted for Bath, and Northampton grabbed the bonus-point try immediately as Robbie Smith again was at the back of a successful driving maul.

But as Bayliss returned to the field, Saints were penalised on the 22 and Dunn made them pay at the back of another lineout drive – with 14 of 15 players in Blue, Black and White joining the maul.

Bailey’s conversion attempt this time missed the target leaving the scoreline at 31-19 with 15 minutes to play.

But Saints put the game beyond doubt with a sublime end-to-end score, with a turnover from Robbie Smith and Rory Hutchinson the catalyst. After the ball went loose, James Ramm jinked through a gap and after his offload found Sam Graham, the flanker released Freeman, the winger drew the last defender and grubbered through for Collins to score.

There was still time for Bath to snatch a bonus-point try via another lineout drive, this time replacement hooker Tom Doughty coming up with the ball.

Collins then turned provider as his own kick over the top of the last defender bounced into the path of Grayson, who scored with his first touch.

Fin Smith was yet to miss from the tee, and his conversion capped a perfect evening with the boot and made the final scoreline 45-26 to Northampton, who now have a week off action before a trip to London Irish at the end of the month.

LINE-UPS

SAINTS: 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, S Matavesi, Braley, Grayson, Hutchinson.

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, Spencer, Spencer, Butt, de Carpentier.

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