Tom Vickers’ Saints v Bath view and player ratings: Now, that’s entertainment!

TRY GUY - Jamie Elliott and Ben Foden celebrate (Picture: Linda Dawson)
TRY GUY - Jamie Elliott and Ben Foden celebrate (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Saints may have been accused of not justifying the Franklin’s Gardens entrance fee at times this season - but not on Saturday.

Jim Mallinder’s men turned in a performance full of fizz to dampen Bath spirits, ending the west country outfit’s six-game winning streak.

Okay, so no one’s getting the Champagne out yet, toasting Saints returning to their best form, but from minute one on Saturday there was a different feel about the team.

There was far more aggression, passion and panache from the men in green, black and gold.

The performance was an antithesis of the one they turned in against Gloucester two weeks previous.

This time they didn’t need criticism to inspire.

They hadn’t been wounded at Worcester a week earlier, when winning 27-18.

Instead the desire to stay in the hunt for a top four spot and the fear of dropping out of the top six drove them on.

And so did the fans.

A few may have chosen to exit when Bath went 23-20 up with 12 minutes to go, but those who stayed played their part, and the team responded.

The togetherness, which hasn’t always been present this season, paid dividends as the supporters almost sucked the ball over the tryline late on.

The Gardens had a different feel at the final whistle.

Saints had provided pure satisfaction.

So much of Northampton’s success has been built on winning the forward battle, but on Saturday the backs came to the fore.

Ben Foden looked fresh and full of running, eventually teeing up Jamie Elliott for a sublime, match-winning score.

James Wilson was full of wisdom under the high ball, refusing to crumble in the face of the onrushing Tom Biggs, who is a beastly winger and one of the best in the league.

And Elliott deservedly picked up the man of the match red wine, which he’s barely old enough to drink, as he put in a poacher’s performance.

There have been doubts about the back three this season, and rightly so as their combined lack of tries can be called into question.

But on this occasion Saints showed signs of finding a winning formula that didn’t revolve entirely around their powerful pack.

And it was extremely entertaining fare.

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

Looked closer to the Ben Foden of old, putting in a sparky display that included a fine assist for Jamie Elliott’s match-winning try... 8

JAMES WILSON

Great performance from the utility back, who showed his ability under the high ball time after time... 8

GEORGE PISI

The Samoan tried to provide the midfield platform for Saints to build on and he did a good job... 7

TOM MAY

Saints don’t often lose when this man starts games and his experience and steadying influence is vital to the cause... 7

JAMIE ELLIOTT - CHRON STAR MAN

Showed a finisher’s instinct to claim two tries, the first of which required plenty of poise, which Elliott had in abundance... 8

STEPHEN MYLER

Mixed day with the ball in hand as a couple of passes went astray, but was as assured as ever from the tee... 7

LEE DICKSON

Stepped up his performance levels in the win at Worcester and put in another good, high tempo showing here... 7

SOANE TONGA’UIHA

Full of hustle and bustle and gave as good as he got in the scrum against a Bath side who were no shrinking violets... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD

Had a really tough 37 minutes as his lineout throwing was poor and he threw to the opposition five times... 5

TOM MERCEY

Another accomplished display from the tighthead prop, who is repaying the coaching staff’s faith in him...7

SAMU MANOA

Made one amazing catch from a Stephen Myler high kick and was, as always, a key player... 7

MARK SORENSON

An understated member of the side, but gets through plenty of work and never lets the team down... 6

PHIL DOWSON

The stand-in skipper had another fine game, carrying well as Saints tried to find their way through the Bath rearguard... 7

BEN NUTLEY

The youngster followed on from a good start against Gloucester recently to put in a display full of passion and determination... 8

GJ VAN VELZE

Had a fairly good game, but missed a couple of tackles that could have proved costly... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

ROSS MCMILLAN (for Haywood 37)

Brought added assurance to the Saints lineout and looked good in the loose, too, in a good all-round showing... 7

PAUL DORAN-JONES (for Mercey 54)

Continued Saints’ good work in the scrum, which was a big source of home penalties and is a good man to bring on... 6