Tom Vickers’ Saints view and ratings: Ugly win will boost morale

MIXED BAG - Ryan Lamb

MIXED BAG - Ryan Lamb

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Perhaps little more could be expected from two sides who came into the game on the back of lengthy losing streaks.

But even taking the fact that they had lost six and four games in a row respectively, Dragons and Saints lumbered as they battled it out in LV= Cup pool 4 on Sunday.

Tom Vickers staff photograph

Tom Vickers staff photograph

Jim Mallinder’s men eventually prevailed – and, to them, that will be all that matters as they restored belief ahead of Saturday’s return to Premiership action.

The Dragons will have much more cause for concern as they looked lethargic, and had it not been for their South African winger Tonderai Chavhanga, they would have been beaten by a hefty margin.

Chavhanga bagged himself a hat-trick as Saints switched off in defence on three occasions, but that was the only glimmer of hope the sleepy Dragons had.

The Welsh side were so sloppy that they often gifted their English opponents possession and they were not made to pay until the second half.

Saints, as they had in recent weeks, struggled for invention and fly-half Ryan Lamb had another rollercoaster game.

One moment of flair cost his side a try, another earned them one.

He really is a mixed bag.

But the secret to Saints’ success was once again in the pack, who bullied the Dragons and squeezed them into submission, winning a string of second-half penalties which won the day.

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t polished, but it was four points and a much-needed morale boost ahead of a huge six weeks in the Premiership and in the Heineken Cup.

How they fared...

TOM MAY

Another steady showing from the utility back. He showed bucketloads of wisdom and intelligence and was a good influence... 6

KEN PISI

A very quiet showing from the wing. He didn’t see much action and was unable to make the most of the ball that did come his way... 5

DOM WALDOUCK

Display lacked the X factor but he never shirks the physical side of the game and nearly punched a hole in the Dragons defence during the first half... 6

LUTHER BURRELL

Not at his most influential but earned a black eye for his troubles and put himself about. Couldn’t find any gaps in the Dragons rearguard... 6

JAMIE ELLIOTT

The wing looked sharper than in any of the two previous games since his return from injury. Got his name on the scoresheet and expect to see plenty more from him in the weeks to come... 7

RYAN LAMB

Moments of brilliance, tinged with moments of madness. Mostly kicked well from the tee but his game management sometimes leaves you scratching your head... 6

LEE DICKSON

Was given an armchair ride by the forwards and had plenty of chances to display his rapid distribution as Saints dominated at the breakdown... 6

ALEX WALLER

Another good performance from the prop. He’s enjoying being given the chance to shine in the absence of Soane Tonga’uiha and a run in the side is what he needed... 6

MIKE HAYWOOD

A couple of wayward lineouts aside, the young hooker enjoyed a good game, allying desire and raw talent to help Saints dominate up front... 6

PAUL DORAN-JONES

Was replaced at half-time after an average first half. Not as impressive as against Harlequins eight days earlier, but still played his part in a big forward effort... 5

SAMU MANOA

The stand-out player in the Saints side. The American second row displayed his immense power to get Saints over the gainline and put a dagger in the Dragons rearguard... 8

MARK SORENSON

Did well in the lineout as he stole a couple from Dragons put-ins and is emerging as a key member of the side in Christian Day’s absence... 6

CALUM CLARK

One great charge-down showed his gargantuan determination to end up on the winning side for the first time since returning from his ban... 6

PHIL DOWSON

Deserved a try on his 100th appearance for Saints, taking advantage of his side’s prop power to get over the line. A real influence on a vital victory... 7

GJ VAN VELZE

Took control on a couple of occasions when necessary and matures week by week in the green, black and gold... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

BRIAN MUJATI

Phil Dowson said it all in the post-match interviews when he praised the prop’s impact in the scrum and the half-time replacement really impressed during his 40-minute appearance... 7