Bonus-point win for Saints

Date published: September 11 2016

Northampton bounced back from last week's loss as they picked up a 32-10 bonus-point victory against Bristol at Ashton Gate on Sunday.

First half tries from George North, Louis Picamoles and Ken Pisi put Saints 25-3 ahead at the break.

Ross McMillan hit back for the hosts in the second half, but they couldn't form a real fightback with Mike Haywood sealing the win, as Bristol begin life in the Premiership with two defeats.

Both sides came into this one on the back of Round One defeats, though Bristol claimed their first Premiership point since 2009 with a two-point defeat against Harlequins.

The first-half was one of the toughest they will have all season though, as Saints gave them a lesson in bursting out of the blocks. Stephen Myler kicked the visitors ahead four minutes in after a maul was hauled down, and Saints immediately took the front foot from the restart.

Surges forward from the likes of Dylan Hartley began to drag the hosts out of position, and North switched sides for the overlap before crossing the line.

Myler's conversion attempt got caught in the wind and went to the right of the posts, with Tusi Pisi firing through the first points for the hosts soon after to get his side on the board.

Another good restart saw a scrum 25 metres out, with play sent into the corner. A maul developed and although Bristol held ground well, they were powerless to stop Picamoles grounding for his first Saints try. Myler converted this time, in what was turning into a perfect first quarter for his side.

Another Myler penalty from long range went safely through, before try three arrived. Myler's kick forward found Ken Pisi, who shrugged off a challenge and kept his balance superbly to go in just inside the corner. Myler converted again, with Bristol left with a mountain to climb after only 20 minutes.

Northampton thought they'd secured the bonus point late in the half, but the TMO ruled that a fumble had denied them try number four for the time being.

But the Bristol from last week started to emerge in the second half, and they grabbed their first home try courtesy of McMillan. After a maul was held back, Will Hurrell cut through before offloading to the ex-Saints man to go over, with Pisi converting.

Wind was playing a factor throughout the game, aiding Bristol in the second half after hindering them in the first.

It didn't have the power to get the hosts over the line more frequently though, seeing opportunities held up including a five metre maul.

Northampton weren't making life easy though, making errors in possession when Bristol allowed them the ball. They did have occasional opportunities at the other end, with North applying pressure as they searched for the bonus.

And with four minutes to play, Haywood went over to secure the bonus point and claim Saints' first win of the campaign.

The scorers:

For Bristol:
Try: McMillan
Con: T Pisi
Pen: T Pisi

For Northampton:
Tries: North, Picamoles, K Pisi, Haywood
Cons: Myler 2, Mallinder
Pens: Myler 2

Bristol: 15 Jack Wallace, 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Jack Lam (c), 6 Jon Fisher, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Ross McMillan, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 James Phillips, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Mitch Eadie, 22 Rhodri Williams, 23 Adrian Jarvis

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (c), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Ben Foden

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Peter Allan
TMO: Graham Hughes