Tom Vickers’ Saints v Gloucester view and player ratings

WINNING SMILES - Ken Pisi and Mike Haywood enjoy Saturday's win over Gloucester (Picture: Linda Dawson)
WINNING SMILES - Ken Pisi and Mike Haywood enjoy Saturday's win over Gloucester (Picture: Linda Dawson)
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There may have been a different cast list, but it was a very familiar Saints show on Saturday.

The 33-6 thrashing of Gloucester made it five games, five wins, four bonus points and 23 tries for Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens this season.

Players may rotate in and out, but whatever the men in green, black and gold touch turns to, well... gold.

There is a rich belief currently filtering through the club, with everyone from the tea lady to the chairman left with a warm feeling on departure from the Gardens.

It is a result of the squad Jim Mallinder has assembled and the hard work that has been done behind the scenes.

The club’s Academy system is bearing fruit, as illustrated by Saturday’s showing.

Mallinder pinpointed the likes of Alex Waller, Mike Haywood and Ben Nutley in his programme column, but was keen to stress there are many more where they came from.

The performances of players such as wing Howard Packman and scrum-half Alex Day, both excellent on debut, suggest as much.

They are not quite as far down the track as the likes of Waller, who celebrated his 100th Saints appearance with the man of the match Champagne, or the tenacious Nutley.

But they are well on their way, you can be sure about that.

All in all, there is a good, balanced feel about the Saints squad.

Stellar names such as George North and Kahn Fotuali’i have arrived and passed on their wisdom to youngsters like Packman and Day.

Alex Corbisiero also made his way to the Gardens during the summer and it is clear his work with Waller is benefiting both parties.

There is a real band of brothers feel to the squad, with everyone backing each other up.

Messages fly between international stars and Academy graduates on social networking sites before games - and it’s not just an act.

Skipper Dylan Hartley even sent a personal message to the Saints squad in the build-up to the Gloucester battle, telling the youngsters ‘we owe them one’.

It is a sign of just how much camaraderie there is between the men dubbing themselves the ‘Mo Bros’ this November, as Hartley’s Movember campaign gathers pace.

That is all for a good cause, and, its knock-on effect is the galvanising of an already tight-knit Saints squad.

That is why the Wanderers are gunning for ‘A’ League glory, having finished top of their pool, outscoring every other team.

They are not Saints’ second team. They are just Saints.

And that is why Saturday’s performance was so seamless.

How they rated...

JAMES WILSON

Set up Ken Pisi’s first try with a well weighted kick through and was impressive at both ends of the pitch... 8

KEN PISI

Scored twice in the space of five first-half minutes, showing his predatory streak with two fine finishes... 8

TOM STEPHENSON

Provides plenty of go-forward from centre and his mix of style and steel with Dom Waldouck was good news for Saints... 7

DOM WALDOUCK

A good display from the skipper, who played a key role in the first try and was generally good in defence and attack... 7

HOWARD PACKMAN

This lad can move and he made one lighting break that left Gloucester gasping for air. Also played his part in defence with a superb stop on England man Matt Kvesic... 7

GLENN DICKSON

Pretty accurate with the boot and also controlled proceedings well. Main compliment is that England fly-half Freddie Burns didn’t outshine him... 7

RYAN GLYNN

Has clearly learned a lot from Lee Dickson as his high tempo game kept Saints on the front foot... 7

ALEX WALLER - CHRON STAR MAN

Seems to get better every week and celebrated his 100th Saints appearance with a typically strong showing... 8

MIKE HAYWOOD

So aggressive in defence and helped to force mistakes out of Gloucester with some big hits. Another impressive performance... 7

TOM MERCEY

Helped tee up Ken Pisi’s second score and enjoyed a good evening in the scrum. Saints will be delighted to have him back after injury... 7

ROB VERBAKEL

Played extremely well for the Wanderers five days earlier and kept his standards high with another good display... 7

JAMES CRAIG

Unlucky to be forced off through injury but was having a good influence before having to be replaced... 7

BEN NUTLEY

Always puts in a big shift whenever he plays and this was no different. The back row is not a prospect any more, he’s just a very good player... 8

TEIMANA HARRISON

Has so much potential and showed why he is so highly rated with another big show, following on from his impressive effort for the Wanderers earlier in the week... 7

GJ VAN VELZE

Controlled the ball brilliantly in the scrum and made some inroads going forward in another good effort... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

ALEX DAY (for Glynn 52)

What a debut for the young scrum-half, who came on, sparked the game into life and scored two tries... 8

ETHAN WALLER (for A Waller 55)

Loves the competition with his brother for the No.1 shirt and the pair are clearly bringing the best out of each other... 7

GARETH DENMAN (for Mercey 55)

Helped maintain Saints’ dominance at scrum time with another good performance. Another player with a bright future... 7