Northampton Saints’ physicality was highlighted by head coach Sam Vesty as the men in Black, Green and Gold defeated Doncaster Knights in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
From Sam Graham’s thunderous first carry of the game against his former club, Saints flexed their muscles against their Championship visitors to score four tries in the first half before bagging eight more after the interval.
The 82-point haul on Sunday at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens was the club’s fifth highest total in the professional era, edging out the 81-0 National League 1 victory over Launceston in April 2008 by a single point.
“We were really physical for the whole of the game and it paid dividends in the back end of it,” said Vesty. “That’s what we challenge the boys on and I think they really came up trumps.
“I am really proud of the effort put in to really physically take it to Doncaster over the whole game, so I am very happy.”Sam Vesty
“The boys set themselves really high standards. It certainly wasn’t perfect or anything like that but the intent to be physical, to go forward, was incredible. That’s what we asked for, that’s what we wanted to test ourselves on.”
The other three scores were recorded by Archie McParland as the 18-year-old scrum-half claimed a hat-trick on just his fifth senior outing for the club.
Vesty said: “He’s a very good lad and he learns very quickly. We talk about doing something, we practice a couple of times, and suddenly he is pretty good at it.
“He’s got the right attitude to keep improving as well. If he keeps with that attitude, I can’t see why he wouldn’t, he shoots for the stars.”
Doncaster were in the fight in the first half and, with former Saintsman Sam Olver at fly-half, asked questions of the home side’s defence – that stood up to the test conceding only a try in each half in what was a big improvement on the previous week’s 43-42 victory over Bath.
“We defended lots of good sets,” added Vesty. “Doncaster attacked really well and I thought the tested our defence really nicely. They scored one intercept, you take that out of it, it’s a good set of defence I thought.
“On the whole we worked really hard at that, at our basics in defence and I think we hopefully saw the fruition of it – I thought it was good overall.”
The 12-try win was Saints’ final game in this season’s PRC as attentions now turn to Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership opening round match at the Salford Community Stadium against last season’s runners-up, Sale Sharks.
“It’s a great challenge against a good Sale side,” said Vesty. “So let’s go and front up and dominate. I’m not saying dominate and runaway with the game or anything like that, I’m saying let’s go and have a proper battle.
“I think we can really take it to them and if we can do that for a long enough period of time, I am confident we will be in a good place.”