Francois Van Wyk's brace helped Northampton Saints’ young guns secure an opening bonus-point victory in the Premiership Rugby Cup against Bristol Bears at Franklin's Gardens.
James Grayson and Van Wyk scored their first tries for the Club in the opening stages, before the South African added his second and scrum-half Alex Mitchell also crossed to give Northampton a 30-5 lead at the break – Tom Lindsay scoring the Bears’ only try in response.
Reece Marshall, George Furbank and Andrew Kellaway added further tries as Saints streaked away in the second half, although Bristol did earn a losing bonus-point with Jordan Crane and Tom Pincus dotting down before Jack Lam’s last-minute score.
It was a fast start for Saints who dominated the early possession to earn a dangerous lineout, and after continued phase play the ball came wide on the left for Grayson to score – although the fly-half could not add the extras from the touchline.
Van Wyk quickly scored his first try in Black, Green and Gold when skipper Tom Wood remarkably charged down two straight clearing kicks from Bristol, and the loosehead pounced on the ball to double Saints’ lead.
Bristol then enjoyed a period of possession and Tom Lindsay emerged from a driving maul to chalk up their opening score, but Grayson kicked two quickfire penalties in response before Van Wyk scrambled over the line after a scrum from five metres out to score his second of the afternoon.
And just before the break Alex Mitchell earned the bonus-point for Northampton after Luther Burrell made a searing break and offloaded to the scrum-half who crashed over in the left corner.
Marshall opened Saints' second-half account when he grounded the ball alongside Lewis Ludlam from a pick and go while Grayson added the routine conversion from in front of the posts.
Bristol did not lie down however and their second try came soon after when Ioan Lloyd raced down the wing, and while Furbank’s superb defensive effort denied him, Jordan Crane was in position to touch down from close-range.
Furbank then scored a try of his own before Andrew Kellaway added a seventh for the home side, with Furbank – who had slotted into the fly-half position for the final 20 minutes – kicking a brilliant touchline conversion to bring up a half century of points for the home side.
Pincus collected a clever to chip to score the Bears’ third after brave defence from Saints on their own 22, and although Lam secured a losing bonus point for the visitors in the dying moments of the game, it wasn't enough to dampen the boisterous home crowd’s spirits as Northampton ran out 51-24 winners.
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