A five-star Saints performance saw them surge to a 36-13 bonus-point win in the East Midlands derby at a packed-out Franklin’s Gardens.
Matt Proctor's first-half double sent Northampton on their way, with a barnstorming man-of-the-match display from Taqele Naiyaravoro helping Chris Boyd’s men muscle their way to a resounding win over their local rivals – with Tom Collins, Api Ratuniyarawa and Fraser Dingwall all also crossing the whitewash.
Saints saw precious little of the ball in the opening quarter, but what they did have they made excellent use of. George Furbank in particular was electric, regularly causing problems for the Leicester defence as part of an attacking effort that brought about three first-half scores.
Even a yellow card for Alex Moon did not threaten to let Tigers back into it in the second 40. A dominant defensive display from Saints slowly strangled the life out of the visitors, while the numerical disadvantage was not a problem in securing that all-important bonus point score.
After a scrappy opening with both sides faltering at the set-piece, George Ford opened the scoring with a penalty from in front of the posts. It could have been much worse for Saints, with Cobus Reinach’s brilliant covering tackle preventing a certain try once Ford had put Jaco Taute through a gap earlier in the build-up.
Saints gave the perfect response to going behind. A scrum deep in the 22 saw Reinach break down the short side before sending Proctor over on a hard inside line.
Back came Tigers, showing an impressive power game around the fringes that saw Guy Thompson barrel his over from close range. Ford’s conversion saw Leicester back out to a three-point lead.
Almost immediately off the restart, the pendulum swung in Saints’ favour once more. James Grayson levelled things up off the tee, but not before a moment of comic relief for the crowd with Ben Youngs’ kick rebounding off on unknowing Tomas Lavanini’s shoulder.
Less than five minutes later, Proctor grabbed his second of the day. Collins pulled a beautiful flat ball out of the locker to send Naiyaravoro away down the left flank, and once play came back the opposite way, the All Black was on hand to dive over in the corner from Furbank’s offload.
There was still time just before the break for Proctor to turn provider. His break saw Saints counterattack from their own 22 after a Tom Wood steal at the lineout, and before you know it Naiyaravoro was throwing a trademark offload to send Api Ratuniyarawa in for the score.
It wasn’t all plain sailing after the break as Moon saw yellow for cynically slapping the ball out of Ben Youngs’ hands. But Rory Hutchinson put the pressure right back on Tigers with a beautiful kick into the corner, and once the mistake came at the lineout, Collins burst over in the corner for the bonus-point score.
Another Tigers error gifted Saints their fifth try; Dingwall taking advantage of an overthrown lineout to score seconds after entering the fray.
Saints finished strongly with a period of pressure in the 22, but couldn’t quite finish things off with another try as James Mitchell was held-up over the line.
Boyd’s thoughts now turn to the key Champions Cup double-header as four-time champions Leinster come to the Gardens in a week’s time.