Tom Vickers’ Newport v Northampton Saints ratings and review

BIG INFLUENCE - Christian Day steered Saints to victory in the Rodney Parade mudbath (Pictures: Linda Dawson)
BIG INFLUENCE - Christian Day steered Saints to victory in the Rodney Parade mudbath (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

Towards the end of Saturday’s game at Rodney Parade conditions were more akin to a swimming gala than a rugby match.

But, once again, Saints showcased their effective all-weather game as they scrapped to a 34-16 win against a struggling Newport side.

The hosts, who shipped 19 unanswered points in the second half, were less fire-breathing Dragons, more unicorns as they failed to match Northampton’s power game.

Lyn Jones’ men were drowned by a Saints pack who were totally dominant, upping the intensity levels after the break to secure a third win from as many games in this season’s LV= Cup.

The statistics are startling, with Saints having scored a whopping 106 points in three Anglo-Welsh outings, despite missing the majority of their first 15.

What is evident is that the winning ethos and strong style of play runs right throughout the club.

There are almost three sets of players capable of stepping up and producing big performances when it matters.

And there are senior players, such as the ever-impressive Christian Day and Phil Dowson, who help the youngsters understand what it means to be a Saint.

It is a luxurious position for director of rugby Jim Mallinder to be in as he blends youth with experience and continues to get results.

Mallinder has steered his side to 17 wins and a draw from their 21 games in all competitions this season, with only three teams - Castres, Gloucester and Leinster - earning victories.

It is a sensational record that illustrates the strength in depth that Saints now possess, and their ability to survive in the most extreme of circumstances.

That adaptability was on show to the maximum at Rodney Parade on a day when the wind, rain and hail was so severe referee Andrew Small had to pull the players off the pitch.

Saints, after a quick warm-up excercise at the interval, made their way through the monsoon to drive home their quality in the second 40 minutes.

Their maul was irresistable, their scrum unstoppable and their half-backs intelligent on a day when the Dragons crumbled under the strain.

Home head coach Jones admitted his side had been taught a harsh lesson, but they weren’t the first to see the Saints machine roll into town and proceed to flatten the opposition.

The green, black and gold now have a home-semi-final in their sights, with a victory against Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens next weekend crucial to making that hope a reality.

And you would certainly have to be of a brave disposition to bet against Saints achieving it.

Just ask Jones and his Dragons.

How they rated...


Not the easiest day to be a back as puddles on the pitch caused havoc when the ball was kicked through, but the Kiwi enjoyed a steady return to action after injury... 6


Showed off his swimming skills with a great covering slide late in the game to deny Newport a try, and was generally sound... 7


Stood up well defensively and did what he could in attack, though it wasn’t a day when backs play was able to stand out... 6


Like Stephenson, shut the door in the midfield, stopping Newport getting any attacking impetus, especially in the second half... 6


Grabbed his first Saints try on a day when the other four five-pointers were earned by forwards... 6


Controlled the game well and kicked superbly in horrible conditions as his reputation continued to enhance. Set up Denman’s try with a tidy pass... 7


Was vital to Saints as he cajolled the pack and made some extremely astute decisions to ensure the team played in the right areas... 8


Was part of a huge front row effort, systematically dismantling the Dragons front five as Saints dominated in the tight... 8


Grabbed his first try of the season on the back of a trademark maul from Saints and was sound in all departments... 8


Was a huge presence in the scrum, taking his opposite number to task and rounded off his first start with a sliding score in the corner... 8


Struggled with his handling in the opening few minutes, but recovered well to produce a decent performance... 6


Marshalled the team superbly and dominated in the lineout. Grabbed 11 lineouts and made eight tackles on a day when his experience was vital... 8


First-half sin-binning was a blot on his copybook as Saints conceded a try while he was off, but the flanker did a lot of other things well... 6


The skipper helped the younger members of the team through with a wise showing. Is such an important member of the squad... 7


Got his name on the scoresheet and relished the chance to start a game. Was strong at the back of a big pack performance... 7