Northampton Saints 41 Dragons 7: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Saints celebrated a welcome win on Saturday evening (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Saints celebrated a welcome win on Saturday evening (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Saints certainly won't be getting carried away after downing the Dragons on Saturday evening.

But there wasn't much more they could do as they ended their losing streak and secured the shot in the arm they desperately needed ahead of the return to Aviva Premiership action.

The first half was far from vintage as the Dragons threatened to breathe some fire, but the Welsh team never really had enough quality to trouble Saints.

They failed to use the possession and territory that came their way, and Saints made them pay.

Two tries before the break put Jim Mallinder's men in pole position, and they raced clear during the second period.

Cobus Reinach pulled the strings in an eye-catching solo display, while other experienced players such as Tom Wood and Sam Dickinson also stepped up.

Harry Mallinder impressed at full-back

Harry Mallinder impressed at full-back

There was a nice mix of wisdom and a lack of inhibition as Saints showed their belief hadn't been dented by recent defeats.

And when they clicked, they had far too much for a Dragons side who had only won three of their 10 games before heading to the Gardens.

Saints have still only won five of their 11 this season now, but they have faced some tough opposition who they would have expected to competed better against.

And now three high-pressure Premiership battles beckon.

Tom Wood scored for Saints

Tom Wood scored for Saints

Saints will feel they can finish above Worcester, Sale and Newcastle in the league this season.

And they will expect to not only perform against but beat those sides.

However, they will know that is far easier said than done.

And they must be in the best possible shape if they are to pick up the points they feel they can.

Alex Mitchell grabbed his first Saints score

Alex Mitchell grabbed his first Saints score

They will need all of the belief garnered in this six-try success against the Dragons and all of the vigour that should be brought by some players who have had the past two weeks off.

But for now, they will just be glad to have that winning feeling back in their dressing room.

How they rated...

HARRY MALLINDER

An impressive outing for the talented youngster, who produced some eye-catching offloads and looks likely to stay at 15 at Sixways next Saturday... 8

JUAN PABLO ESTELLES

Picked up his third try in just two matches and the Dragons struggled to deal with his dancing feet in both halves of the pitch... 7

RORY HUTCHINSON

A lively, creative display from the Scot, who has plenty of class and always looks capable of unlocking a defence... 7

TOM STEPHENSON

A physical showing from the centre, who put himself about, making some big hits and crucial carries... 7

KEN PISI

Showed good awareness and speed to grab himself a try and his break created the bonus-point score for Reinach... 8

STEPHEN MYLER

Kicked well from the tee and kept the team ticking over with plenty of accuaracy in attack... 7

COBUS REINACH - CHRON STAR MAN

Looked lively at Exeter during the previous week's defeat and was even better here, pulling the strings for Saints with speed and a strong kicking game... 8

FRANCOIS VAN WYK

A decent day for the South African as he had the upper hand in the scrum and contributed plenty to the team... 7

REECE MARSHALL

The young hooker was a contender for the man of the match award as he carried well and scored his first Saints try... 8

JAMAL FORD-ROBINSON

A morale-boosting appearance for the prop as he looked strong in the scrum and tried to carry the fight to the Dragons... 7

MICHAEL PATERSON

Kept his composure to find Reinach for the bonus-point score and, as always, he worked very hard for his team... 7

SAM DICKINSON

Got through plenty of graft, scrapping for everything as he led from the front as skipper once again... 8

TOM WOOD

The experienced flanker showed his class as he kept Saints on the front foot with big carries and hits, etching his name on the scoresheet during the second half... 8

BEN NUTLEY

Made some key metres for Saints, especially in the build-up to Mitchell's score, and he rarely disappoints... 7

MITCH EADIE

Looked strong, particularly during the formative stages of the match, and his return is a boost for Saints as they seek competition for Harrison and Dickinson at No.8... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

JAMES GRAYSON (for Myler 57)

Is growing into the Saints shirt with every appearance and his hard work off the field is clearly paying off... 7

PAUL HILL (for Ford-Robinson 58)

The prop will hope to get plenty more game time in the Premiership during the next few weeks and he looked strong here... 7

ALEX MITCHELL (for Reinach 58)

He has been a lively influence from the bench during the past two weeks and added to his burgeoning reputation with his first Saints try here... 7