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Warriors 13 – 29 Saints: Bonus-point win edges Northampton into top four

Northampton Saints wrapped up their second successive bonus-point win on the road, beating Worcester Warriors 29-13 to move into the Gallagher Premiership’s top four.

The men in Black, Green and Gold built up a 19-3 lead in the first half thanks to tries from Rory Hutchinson, Sam Matavesi, and Alex Mitchell.

And despite the hosts threatening a comeback briefly with two tries of their own, James Fish crashed over at the back of a lineout drive to seal the extra point – with Saints moving into fourth spot in the table ahead of the weekend’s remaining fixtures.

After winning a sixth-minute penalty with Saints offside, Worcester kicked to the corner and began to build the phases, but as the hosts looked to score it was Ahsee Tuala who made a crucial interception close to his own line to snuff out the attack.

Another Warriors penalty was kicked into the corner nine minutes later, but this time Ollie Sleightholme and Fraser Dingwall combined well in defence to usher Ashley Beck into touch.

An error-strewn opening 20 minutes ended with the scoreline still deadlocked at 0-0, but Saints burst into life as Matavesi offloaded to Paul Hill who shot through a gap, with Northampton winning a breakdown penalty and kicking to the corner – and after a productive maul, Hutchinson danced through two defenders to score a classy try.

Dan Biggar made no mistake with the routine conversion to make it 7-0 to Saints, but Juarno Augustus could not hold onto the ball as he made to return from the kick-off, and Worcester won a penalty from the resulting scrum.

Fin Smith reduced the deficit with the kick as this time the hosts pointed to the posts, but shortly after Augustus smashed through a defender following a Teimana Harrison offload, and as Northampton looked to put the ball through the hands and into the corner, Perry Humphreys was penalised for a deliberate knock-on and sin-binned for ten minutes.

The lineout drive did the damage again for the men in Black, Green and Gold, as Matavesi hit his man from the throw and then burrowed over himself for a try at the back of the maul – although the stiff headwind blew Biggar’s conversion attempt wide of the mark.

Saints won a scrum against the head in Warriors territory with four minutes of the first half remaining, but while that attack came to nothing due to a knock-on, there was still time before the interval for Mitchell to dart through a gap on halfway and finish off Northampton’s third try himself.

Biggar this time landed the extras from the left-hand side to send his side into the sheds 19-3 ahead, and added another three points to his tally eight minutes into the second half as Worcester were again penalised for a deliberate knock-on.

Warriors saw a try for Duhan van der Merwe ruled out by the TMO, with the wing adjudged to have put a foot in touch. But after a succession of scrum penalties, hooker Rory Sutherland finally stretched over for the score, with Billy Searle missing the conversion attempt.

Discipline started to cost Saints as a high tackle allowed Owen Williams to send the ball back into the visitors’ 22, and after a well-worked lineout move, Ashley Beck was sent through a gap and crossed the whitewash – although again Searle was wayward from the tee to leave the score at 13-22.

But Northampton wrapped up the bonus point with ten minutes of the contest remaining from another lineout drive, with replacement hooker Fish the beneficiary this time as the try was awarded via the TMO.

Biggar knocked over the extras just before he was replaced by James Grayson, and Saints held firm under some pressure in the closing stages to celebrate a second successive bonus-point triumph away from home.

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