Northampton Saints 24 Bath 6: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

George North rounded off Saints' impressive win by scoring the bonus-point try against Bath (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
George North rounded off Saints' impressive win by scoring the bonus-point try against Bath (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

During the past two weeks, Saints have been like the child who gives the playground bullies a taste of their own medicine.

After being beaten up by Saracens at Twickenham, Jim Mallinder's have stuck the boot into Leicester and Bath.

Harry Mallinder kicked two conversions

Harry Mallinder kicked two conversions

The players were labelled 'soft' by their coaches the week after that sobering defeat in south-west London, but they have certainly toughened up since.

They threw Bath around like ragdolls at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night, blasting into tackles and pushing off their opponents in attack.

It was a pleasure to watch and a second successive huge performance after the toppling of the Tigers six days earlier.

Like Leicester, Bath came to the Gardens with a star-studded back line.

Luther Burrell is looking back to his best

Luther Burrell is looking back to his best

But like Leicester, Bath were blunted.

Saints never looked like conceding a try and Rhys Priestland's two penalties were all the away side merited from a tough night at the office.

Saints have had their own difficult day this season, but it could just be that the Saracens shocker is the best thing to have happened to them.

It stung them into life, made them do some soul-searching and helped them to redevelop their identity.

Saints celebrated another comprehensive home success

Saints celebrated another comprehensive home success

Although there are still things to work on - the scrum wasn't dominant again and some of the kicking way wayward - there is so much to be encouraged by.

In the space of a couple of weeks, things have totally turned on their head for Saints.

And they now go into next Sunday's game at London Irish with real belief.

They can also point to the statistics and state they have made progress since last season.

Because in the corresponding fixtures during the 2016/17 campaign (Saracens away, Leicester at home, Bath at home) Saints took two points.

This time round they have taken nine.

That is something to build on and reward for Saints' attacking ambition and recent defensive defiance.

They were scoring tries for fun at the end of last season, but they didn't look secure at the other end of the field.

Against Saracens, they continued the defensive lapses and failed to produce the attacking adventure.

But in the past two weeks, they have got both areas of the game right.

And how enjoyable it has been for the Franklin's Gardens faithful, who have been given something to shout about.

The feelgood factor has returned to the Gardens, with the supporters appreciating not only the skill of their players, but the immense spirit, too.

It would have been easy for Saints to buckle after that Saracens defeat.

But they have rebuilt superbly and now look a totally different team to the one that took to the Twickenham turf.

Every member of the side contributed on Friday night and it was also good for supporters to see club captain Dylan Hartley doing a job as water boy, despite his hand injury.

That 'in it together' approach is exactly what Saints need.

Because, as they have shown during the past two weeks, if the character is present, they have the class needed to succeed this season.

How they rated...

AHSEE TUALA

Tried to provide cut and thrust, and defended well as Bath failed to find a way through Saints... 7

GEORGE NORTH

The Wales wing looks revitalised and this was another huge display that was deservedly capped with a bonus-point try... 8

ROB HORNE

Has made a big impact already, ending up on the winning team in all three of his appearances in Northampton colours... 7

LUTHER BURRELL

The centre looks back to his best. He made one big break that led to a try and he was a huge presence in the midfield... 8

TOM COLLINS

Played a key role in the Courtney Lawes try and this was another eye-catching performance from the in-form wing... 7

HARRY MALLINDER

Had a really tough first half and attracted the ire of the home fans for some of his kicking, but he again showed real character to bounce back from that... 6

NIC GROOM

The slick scrum-half kept the tempo high for Saints and some of his box kicks helped to put Bath under pressure... 7

ALEX WALLER

Put in a power-packed display as he charged around the field, carrying hard and making big hits... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD

Always brings real energy to the team and he did some key work around the park as well as making sure the lineout was hugely secure... 7

PAUL HILL

Came in for his first start of the season and although Saints couldn't get the upper hand in the scrum, he brought plenty of physicality in the loose in a good showing... 7

MICHAEL PATERSON

An unsung hero, the lock has been a key man during the past two weeks, doing the dirty work and making crucial contributions... 8

DAVID RIBBANS - CHRON STAR MAN

Looked a real find as he starred towards the end of last season, and he has picked up where he left off with a massive two-try display here... 9

COURTNEY LAWES

There are no superlatives left for this man as he continues to astound with imposing displays that put the opposition on the back foot - and keep them there... 9

JAMIE GIBSON

His work rate is something else and he is also vital in the lineout, ensuring Saints kept their composure and Bath failed to maintain theirs... 8

TEIMANA HARRISON

A typically dynamic display from the back row forward, who had the bit between his teeth, charging around like a man possessed... 8