Tom Vickers’ Worcester v Saints view and player ratings: Mallinder gets his wish
Jim Mallinder inadvertently got what he asked for at Sixways on Saturday afternoon.
In the build-up to the trip to Worcester, the Saints boss had stressed the need for every member of his side to stand up and be counted.
He didn’t want his team to be reliant on returning England stars Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, who had been released from international duty in time for the game.
And, though it may not have been how he wanted it to happen, Mallinder got his wish.
Both Hartley and Lawes were sin-binned during the 27-18 win, leaving Saints with a seven-man pack for 20 minutes of the game.
Kettering brother and sister Ellis and Mia win gold with England
VERDICT: New-look Poppies deliver Glover’s first win in impressive fashion
Glover's delight as Poppies seal first win of the season
Frustration for Burgess as Diamonds let a lead slip again
It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ for perfect Steelmen
But did it affect them? Did it heck.
They simply marched on towards the victory target, leaving the Worcester pack trailing in their wake.
Saints were, quite simply, at their ravenous best up front, revelling in the bread and butter of the game.
Players such as Soane Tonga’uiha and Samu Manoa came to the fore as their side turned around a 12-9 half-time deficit to seal a convincing win.
And though Hartley and Lawes had big parts to play in the effort, their team-mates also showed their ability to step up when key men were off the field.
That should stand Saints in good stead for the next weekend’s game against Bath, who will head to Franklin’s Gardens on the back of a six-game winning streak.
As will the defensive defiance of the likes of Ben Foden, James Wilson and Jamie Elliott.
The back three were sound in defence, snuffing out any Worcester attacks and ensuring the good work of their pack wasn’t wasted.
The Saints backline still have something to prove in an attacking sense, but Saturday’s game, played on a boggy surface, was no time for that.
Instead, the forwards came to the fore and, crucially, it wasn’t all about Messrs Hartley and Lawes.
Tom’s player ratings
Made a superb tackle early on to stop Josh Drauniniu getting a try for Worcester and was solid in defence all day... 7
Didn’t get much of a chance in attack, but was sound in the defensive third, making a number of good stops... 7
Didn’t see too much of the ball as the game was played between the packs for the majority of the time, but a steady enough showing... 6
Always puts in a creditable performance and it was no different in this encounter. Won a key penalty for his side in the second half... 6
Like Wilson, had few chances to put Worcester under pressure, but was superb in defence and that is a real strong point for the winger... 7
Tried to create when possible on a difficult day for the backs, and continually put Saints in the right positions... 7
One of his better games of late as he kept the tempo high and cajoled the irrepressible pack as they crushed Worcester... 7
The Tongan was the cornerstone of Saints’ powerhouse pack, who put Worcester under the cosh in relentless fashion during the second half... 8
Secure in the lineout, unstoppable in the scrum and influential everywhere else. Only blot on his copybook was the first-half yellow card... 7
Again got the nod ahead of Paul Doran-Jones and played his part in a fine effort from the Saints pack when they were down to 14 men... 6
Was on the end of a second-half sin-binning for a tackle on Andy Goode, but that was his only real error... 6
A great squad member as he always puts in a good shift and is a really reliable player, who will be missed when he heads to Bristol this summer... 7
SAMU MANOA - CHRON STAR MAN
Grabbed a try and was typically menacing in the maul, the American was in unstoppable mood... 8
Continues to mature like a fine wine, with an edge. Carried well and was a key member of Saints’ power pack... 8
GJ VAN VELZE
Maybe not as noticeable as some other members of the Saints forwards division, but did well, nevertheless... 6
Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)
PAUL DORAN-JONES (for Mercey 54)
Really added to the Saints pack’s push and is a great player to bring off the bench when you want to continue forward momentum... 7
ALEX WALLER (for Tonga’uiha 60)
Will have reveled in taking on former Saints team-mate Euan Murray and was able to get the better of the Scot in the scrum... 7