Northampton Saints 30 Harlequins 22: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

You certainly don't win anything in September, but for Saints to be top of the table at the end of the month is nothing short of remarkable.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 1st October 2017, 1:47 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 3:12 pm
Ahsee Tuala grabbed the bonus-point try on his 50th appearance for Saints (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Ahsee Tuala grabbed the bonus-point try on his 50th appearance for Saints (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

That is because, as everyone of a green, black and gold persuasion knows, it started in the worst possible fashion.

But how long ago that Twickenham torment at the hands of Saracens feels now.

Since then, Saints have played four games, winning all of them, and taking try bonus points from the past three.

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Not only that, but you never really felt they would lose them.

Because Saints have gone from rabbits in the headlights to confident ringmasters.

They have taken their destiny in their own hands and held it with an iron grip.

Leicester and Bath weren't given a sniff at Franklin's Gardens before London Irish were flayed at the Madejski Stadium.

Saints won the physical battle

Saturday's showing against Harlequins was less convincing, but even when Jim Mallinder's men fell 7-5 down during the first half, there was never any thought that they would end the day behind.

Once again, the drive and determination was present by the bucketload.

And there was quite a bit of quality, too.

For the second time in six days, they scored what will probably be a try-of-the-season contender at the club's annual awards dinner.

George North continued his flying start to the season

Mike Haywood finished off a team move that appeared to emanate from a different planet, just as Nic Groom had done at Reading on the previous weekend.

And Tom Collins' effort, prior to Haywood's score, wasn't bad, either!

In Collins and George North, Saints have got wingers playing at the top of their game.

They are the perfect blend of power and pace, and opposition defences are struggling to cope.

Nic Groom set the tone for Saints

Add to that the tenacity of the team's big men and the ability of forwards to combine with backs and you have a squad that deserves its place at the summit.

Saints could have gone into their shells after that Saracens shocker, but to their immense credit, they have come out fighting like a seasoned boxer used to dealing with setbacks.

The doom and gloom of the past couple of seasons has served to make this team stronger.

And those tough moments every Saint has experienced makes this current run of fine form taste even sweeter.

As Mallinder acknowledged after the win against a Quins side with almost as many casualties as Northampton's A&E department on a Saturday night, there is still plenty of work to do.

But the improvements in the team's scrummaging is encouraging and the amount of options Mallinder has to select from is fantastic ahead of some tough fixtures.

Saints celebrated a fourth successive win

Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood and Piers Francis are among the men that will be added to the mix in the coming weeks.

And their presence will be vital in continuing the progression.

The return to fitness of Stephen Myler is a massive boost, as shown by his nerveless penalty that put the game beyond Quins.

All in all, it is not just the table that is looking good.

But it will mean nothing if Saints don't keep their feet on the ground and keep churning out the wins.

Next stop, Gloucester.

How they rated...


Showed good composure to claim the try that earned the bonus point on his 50th Saints appearance, and he always provides a threat... 8


Has started the season in fantastic form and was hugely influential again here, starting the scoring with a powerful run to the line... 8


Wasn't able to hit the headlines like he did on the previous weekend, but was solid enough throughout... 7


Battled on bravely after taking a knock during the first half and didn't let the intercept pass Quins scored from affect him... 6


Shone during pre-season and has really hit the ground running, with tries flowing and defenders trailing in his wake... 8


Made Collins' try with some nice vision and also saved a score with a great tackle on Marland Yarde, but there were a couple of kicks he'd have hoped to do better with... 6


The scrum-half has grown into the Saints shirt, enjoying a fine 2017 so far and he made some key contributions in another high-tempo showing... 8


Always gives his all for the club and this display was no different as he carried well and scrapped for every inch in the scrum... 7


A superb performance from the hooker, who rounded off a fine team try and also created one for Tuala with a big hit on the far more sizeable Mark Lambert... 8


Put himself about a lot, frantically trying to get in the game and displaying the improvements he has made to his fitness... 7


Always puts a huge shift in and has become a key cog in this team in recent weeks... 7


Fights for everything, continually making metres and providing an assured presence that belies his youth... 7


Three games as captain, and three wins for the incredible forward who never seems to have an off day... 8


The word indefatigable sums this man up as he continually puts in performances the Duracell bunny would be proud of... 8


His on-field tenacity knows no bounds and his muscular carries put Quins on the back foot time and again... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

SAM DICKINSON (for Harrison 55)

A decent cameo to help Saints stop Quins in their tracks, just as the away side were getting up a head of steam... 6

Saints won the physical battle
George North continued his flying start to the season
Nic Groom set the tone for Saints
Saints celebrated a fourth successive win