Tom Vickers’ Bath v Northampton Saints review and player ratings

DETERMINED DISPLAY - Tom Wood was full of fight in Saints' draw at Bath (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
DETERMINED DISPLAY - Tom Wood was full of fight in Saints' draw at Bath (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Draws are so rare in rugby that when they do occur teams can sometimes be slightly unsure what to make of them.

Saints have sampled two stalemates this season, but there can be no doubt that Friday night’s 19-19 draw at Bath felt very different to the one at Leicester back in October.

On that occasion, Jim Mallinder’s men surrended a 10-point lead and were clinging on at the end as they stumbled over the line to earn their two points.

But at Bath, relief rather than regret was the overriding emotion, with a controverial ending crowning a topsy-turvy encounter.

At half-time, Saints would not have settled for the 6-6 scoreline with which they headed into the dressing room to regroup.

They had bossed the first period, with attack after attack bouncing back off the defiant blue and white wall.

Bath had used the little territory they had to good effect, earning enough shots at goal to ensure they wouldn’t be behind at the interval.

And by the time referee Matthew Carley blew the final whistle amid a backdrop of boos from the home fans, Saints were more than happy to share the spoils.

Because Bath had upped the tempo after the break, with George Ford the fulcrum of their attacking game.

Saints showed great character to stick with their hosts, who were building up a head of steam after Ford’s majestic try.

And, thankfully for Northampton, they had an equally impressive fly-half in their camp, with Stephen Myler again showing why he is known as the Ice Man by his team-mates.

Myler kept his cool to land a tricky conversion and a late penalty, among others, as well as teeing up Jamie Elliott for a try with a sublime offload.

It was a tale of two fly-halves. A story written by two of England’s best 10s.

But the sub-plot was that Saints had done what they needed to do, and that was shown by the smile adorning Mallinder’s face during post-match media duties.

He knew his team had pretty much secured their top-two place, with next week’s game against Wasps able to be used as a warm-up act for the main event of the play-offs a week later.

That is what Saints wanted, and that is why the Recreation Ground draw tasted sweet as opposed to sour.

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

Tried to spark attacks with a couple of breaks, but was quickly shut down by the suffocating Bath defence... 6

KEN PISI

Made his return to the side following a shoulder injury and looked sharp as he tried to gain his team some ground... 7

GEORGE PISI

Thought he’d scored a second-half try, but saw it chalked off on a night when Saints found it tough to penetrate the Bath defence... 7

LUTHER BURRELL

Made a few of his trademark bursts over the gainline, but wasn’t allowed to go too far as the opposition kept tabs on the England man... 6

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Got himself on the scoresheet again and looked lively throughout, also defending well in his battle with Bath juggernaut Matt Banahan... 7

STEPHEN MYLER - CHRON STAR MAN

An impressive all-round display from the fly-half, who kept his composure from the tee and also showed his skill with a silky offload for Elliott’s try... 8

KAHN FOTUALI’I

The intelligent scrum-half kept Saints on the front foot during a dominant first-half display and helped them turn the tide when Bath stepped it up after the break... 7

ALEX WALLER

Not the easiest night in the scrum for Saints, but this man threw himself at everything in the loose and did everything he could to try to break down the home defence... 7

ROSS MCMILLAN

Was in the middle of a real forwards’ battle and did little wrong once again to enhance his burgeoning reputation... 7

SALESI MA’AFU

Was used as a battering ram on a couple of occasions, but there was little ground given by the home side... 6

SAMU MANOA

Forced off with a rib injury, but did well up to then, revelling in the physicality of this bruising encounter... 7

COURTNEY LAWES

Not the greatest of nights for the England man, who was sidestepped by Ford for the Bath try and who picked up a yellow card in the second half... 6

CALUM CLARK

Tried to exert himself on the opposition and made some important hits to stem Bath’s second-half momentum... 7

TOM WOOD

A dogged display from the flanker, who put himself about in the loose and impressed in the lineout, stealing Bath ball... 8

SAM DICKINSON

Big performance from the big man, who carried the fight to the home side and stood tall in defence... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

MIKE HAYWOOD (for McMillan 55)

The youngster was guilty of giving away a couple of penalties, but he put his body on the line, taking a big hit from Anthony Perenise to earn Myler’s late leveller... 6

TOM MERCEY (for Ma’afu 55)

Saints’ scrum wasn’t as strong as usual and this man came on at time when Bath had the bit between their teeth... 6

JAMES CRAIG (for Manoa 55)

Soaked up a couple of big carries from opposition forwards and got around the park well in defence... 6

PHIL DOWSON (for Clark 55)

Added experience and endeavour to ensure Saints remained in with a chance of claiming the win until the last... 7