A 77th minute George North score secured Northampton a bonus-point 35-10 win over Newcastle at Kingston Park on Sunday.
A 77th minute try from George North secured Northampton Saints a bonus-point 35-10 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park on Sunday.
A strong start from the away side brought tries from Will Hooley, Alex Waller and Ken Pisi. The champions were then in control and North grabbed a fourth late on.
Newcastle responded through a second-half score from ex-Northampton player Noah Cato but that, allied with five points from centre Juan Pablo Socino, was all they could muster.
The Falcons were made to pay for the slowest of starts that saw Saints fly through them at will, with points flowing freely.
The home side had lost their previous 18 outings and they were always up against it versus stronger opposition, whereas Saints were sharp from the first whistle, looking determined to recover from the setback at Wasps a week earlier.
And Jim Mallinder's side were 10-0 up inside six minutes. Hooley was the man with all the points as he added the extras to a try and then landed a penalty following the sin-binning of Newcastle number eight Ally Hogg.
Saints continued to pour forward, aided by Hogg's absence and they soon had another penalty to show for their efforts, with Hooley again hitting the target.
The visitors were simply too slick for their hosts and after Samu Manoa and Kahn Fotuali'i cut another hole in the Falcons defence, Waller pushed his way over to score.
Falcons did respond through a Socino penalty and were further boosted by Hogg's return to the field. But Saints struck an immediate riposte through the boot of Hooley and soon grabbed a third try as Manoa and Fotuali'i again combined, this time setting up Ken Pisi for a simple score.
Hooley made it 28-3 with 27 minutes gone but the Falcons had the bit between their teeth after the interval, clearly being sent out with the words of Dean Richards ringing in their ears.
And they came close to grabbing a try in the early stages of the second period, but Saints held out.
But Newcastle would score next, with Cato making the most of some quick thinking from a penalty to score. Socino converted to cut the gap to 18 points and Saints were looking likely to struggle to get the fourth try they wanted.
But with just three minutes to go, up popped North out wide to grab the extra point.
Tries: Hooley, Waller, K Pisi, North
Con: Hooley 2, Wilson
Pen: Hooley 3
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Alex Tuilagi, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Josh Furno, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Calum Green, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Scott Lawsons, 1 Kieran Brookes
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Gonzalo Tiesi, 23 Sinoti Sinoti.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 James Craig, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Dom Waldouck, 23 James Wilson
Referee: Greg Garner