Northampton Saints 111 Timisoara Saracens 3: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Lewis Ludlam scored one of Saints' 17 tries (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Lewis Ludlam scored one of Saints' 17 tries (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

It was perhaps apt that Saints dialled up 111 points against Timisoara Saracens because the Romanian minnows were certainly in need of medical assistance at full-time at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night.

Physically and mentally, the men in the yellow shirts were tortured.

From the moment Luke Samoa kicked a penalty that provided Timisoara with their only points on a sobering night, Saints swarmed all over their opponents.

Despite Reece Marshall's try, it was a fairly even start.

But after that Samoa effort provided some solace for the team with Saracens in their name, a one-way road was installed at the Gardens.

Wave after wave of Saints pressure brought try after try.

In the end, 17 had been scored by the men in black, green and gold.

And it inspired strange scenes as Saints supporters eventually started to roar Timisoara forward, with sympathy the overriding emotion.

The away side simply weren't competitive and Saints, to their credit, kept their foot on the throat of the opposition.

Home players took turns to inflict misery with each of them eager to get on the scoresheet.

But that did not mean teamwork was abandoned, with Saints impressively unselfish in their attacking play.

There were plenty of glimpses of the class in the home ranks, especially with players such as Alex Mitchell and Rory Hutchinson pulling the strings.

But, in truth, this was less a contest more a training run.

It was not quite Saints' record score - they racked up 118 points against Nuneaton in 2000 - but it was certainly the biggest total most onlookers could remember.

And it brought the curtain down on a bizarre pool stage in which Clermont Auvergne flew out of the blocks and maintained a big lead in the standings.

Saints were some way behind, but they were still miles ahead of the beleaguered Dragons.

And then came Timisoara.

Saints sampled snow in Romania, a rollercoaster in Clermont and a Friday night cruise in Northampton, among myriad other events in Pool 1.

Memories have been made, and Saints will now travel back to Stade Marcel Michelin in the bid to make the best of the lot in March.

They will once again take on Clermont, hoping to not only trouble the French team as they did earlier this month, but to beat them.

Saints rattled the Top 14 table-toppers recently, but they will need that level and performance and more if they are to finally win at Les Jaunards.

One thing is for sure - this competition has shown that strange things can happen.

And that, allied with their fearless performance in France, will give Saints hope as they prepare to cross The Channel once more in a couple of months' time.

How they rated...

GEORGE FURBANK

Was secure from the start and also provided plenty of cut and thrust to ensure Timisoara wouldn't be in Saints' half for long... 8

OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLME
Four tries for the prolific winger, who scored one of the best efforts of the game, slaloming his way through despite having very little space... 9

RORY HUTCHINSON
Was the star of the show during the first half, producing some moments of magic for his team and etching his name on the scoresheet... 9

LUTHER BURRELL
Helped Saints to deal with the Romanian outfit's physicality early on, offloading well and coming so close to a try before Reece Marshall picked up to score... 8

ANDREW KELLAWAY
Was only on the field for a half as Nafi Tuitavake came on to get some minutes under his belt after the break, but Kellaway had already scored... 7

JAMES GRAYSON
Mostly kicked well for his team, racking up 12 conversions, but it was his work in open play that was most impressive... 8

ALEX MITCHELL - CHRON STAR MAN
Looked razor-sharp from the start, proving elusive for Timisoara who just couldn't handle him as he popped up everywhere, scoring a hat-trick... 9

ALEX WALLER
Held his hands up for conceding a penalty during the first half, but showed some lovely touches early on and kept his side ticking over... 7

REECE MARSHALL
Added a couple more tries to his tally as he made the most of Saints' overwhelming dominance... 7

PAUL HILL
A good game to return in as he got some valuable minutes against a side who tried to meet fire with fire but eventually failed... 7

DAVID RIBBANS
Was far too strong for Timisoara, carrying over and over again as he pushed the Romanian side back with ease... 7

DOMINIC BARROW
Saints will be glad to have this man back from injury as he offers options in the second row and showed his toughness here... 7

JAMIE GIBSON
Did everything he could to stop Timisoara keeping possession for long, proving to be a nuisance for the opposition as always... 7

LEWIS LUDLAM
Was given the captaincy during the second half after Waller was withdrawn and always dominated the contact area, eventually grabbing a score... 8

MITCH EADIE
Got some much-needed minutes under his belt, looking a threat throughout as he showed good pace to score and also disrupted the visitors in the set piece... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

NAFI TUITAVAKE (for Kellaway 40)

A comfortable return to action for the Tongan, who scored one and also did well to set another up for Tom Collins late on... 7

ALEX COLES (for Ribbans 40)
A special night for the young lock as he scored his first try for Saints, galloping into space and over the line... 7

WILL DAVIS (for Waller 56)
The game was so loose by the time the replacement props were introduced but this man almost got on the scoresheet... 6

JAMAL FORD-ROBINSON (for Hill 56)
Good for Saints to have the prop back from injury as he has not had much luck of late and will hope to kick on now... 6

CHARLIE DAVIES (for Mitchell 58)
A nice game for the scrum-half to come on in as he got plenty of touches of the ball and did little wrong... 6

Alex Coles claimed his first Saints try

Alex Coles claimed his first Saints try

James Grayson kicked 12 conversions

James Grayson kicked 12 conversions

Mitch Eadie and Jamal Ford-Robinson celebrated

Mitch Eadie and Jamal Ford-Robinson celebrated

James Grayson helped to pull the strings

James Grayson helped to pull the strings

Tom Collins rounded things off for Saints

Tom Collins rounded things off for Saints