The Saints Under-18s powered past Yorkshire in the second half at Leeds to keep their Premiership Rugby Academies League fate in their own hands.
Leading 10-0 at the break courtesy of Sam Easton’s try, a hat-trick from Ehren Painter and two more from fellow prop Rhys Charalambous completed the rout, despite an intercept score from the hosts.
While the Saints currently trail Northern Conference leaders Gloucester by 13 points, victories in upcoming games in hand with Worcester and Sale would set up a winner takes all clash with the Cherry and Whites later this month.
For the opening half an hour, the Saints Under-18s were held at bay by a Carnegie defence intent on putting in big hit after big hit and, although the Saints were attacking well, there seemed to be no let up from the intensity of the tackling and speed over the ball.
The Saints persevered, however, determined to make all of their possession and territory count before half-time. A Yorkshire lineout was stolen and just a few phases later the impressive Easton dotted down after riding two tackles.
The lead was stretched with the last kick of the half via a James Grayson penalty and the teams headed back into the changing rooms with the Saints holding a slender but deserved lead.
The pace of the Yorkshire defence appeared to catch up with the hosts after the break and Saints used their experience to go for the jugular, scoring five tries in a muscular second half display of forward dominance.
All five were scored by the tight-heads; three for Painter and another two for his replacement Charalambous. Despite a Carnegie try from an intercept, Yorkshire never looked like challenging the Saints’ for the lead and the maul was far too effective for any result other than a bonus point victory.
After the match, SaintsTV caught up with hat-trick hero Painter: “I didn’t do too much for the third one,” he said. “It was all about the backs putting us in the right positions and then some real hard work from the guys at the front meant that all I had to do was stay tight and drop over the line. The other two were all about the rest of the pack showing good hands and I was in the right place to go over.
“Last time out we weren’t great so it’s important to bounce back from that and we performed really well today. We stuck at what we knew we were doing well and ended up with a bonus point so you can’t ask for too much more.
“In the first half we struggled to find the exact point that we wanted to attack. Once we found that weakness at the maul we really targeted it. The coaches always tell us that if it works don’t stop and that’s exactly what we did and we came away with six tries.
“Each game at the moment is like a knockout tournament, it’s that competitive, and we know that Worcester are doing well. They’ve always had a good academy and it really is a must win game. There’s nothing more to it: it’s a rugby match and we want to win.”
The visit of Worcester to Franklin’s Gardens this Saturday (Jan 16) is a 1pm kick off on the training pitches and entry is free for all supporters.
34mins SAINTS Try Easton Con Grayson 0-7
35mins SAINTS Pen Grayson 0-10
HALF-TIME YORKS 0 SAINTS 10
50mins SAINTS Try Painter 0-15
54mins YORKS Try & Con 7-15
58mins SAINTS Try Painter 7-20
61mins SAINTS Try Painter Con Haldane 7-27
64mins SAINTS Try Charalambous 7-32
70mins SAINTS Try Charalambous Con Haldane 7-39
FULL-TIME YORKS 7 SAINTS 39