Northampton followed up their opening hammering of Toulon with a six-try 51-7 demolition of Montpellier, who had Julien Tomas and Fabien Rofes sent-off at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Northampton followed up their opening hammering of Toulon with a six-try 51-7 demolition of Montpellier, who had captain Julien Tomas and Fabien Rofes sent-off at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Without the rested superiority of stars Francois Trinh-Duc and Justin Marshall, who were rested in preparation for their Top 14 meeting against Bourgoin next weekend, the French found themselves on the wrong end of a European hiding as the Saints claimed a five-point haul.
The home bandwagon did get rolling at quite a pace as, from faultless pivot Stephen Myler's opening kick-off, Sean Lamont gathered and broke down the touchline before a chip-kick dropped into touch five metres from the line.
From that resultant set-piece, hooker Rofes overcooked his pressure lineout target as flank Scott Gray capitalised sprightly to collect and dive over with only 30 seconds on the match clock.
That seven point lead was stretched to ten soon after as Myler added a penalty with his customary metronomic kicking style on a mild evening.
However, despite their nightmare start, the Montpol coaching team would have been encouraged by the response shown on their travels – a period of hard running seeing Portuguese lock Gancalo Uva running a smart line to score.
That shift in momentum was short-lived though as the battle of the packs was being dominated by Northampton. All of which constituted in plenty of ball for the hosts to utilise as Bruce Reihana slid through a gap with counter ball before attempting a chip for Chris Ashton that fell just short.
But from the recycled possession, Saints shifted the point of attack to the opposite side of ruck where Joe Ansbro was waiting to extend the lead to strong looking 20-7.
Then came arguably the turning moment of the contest as an unorthodox clearout at the breakdown from Dylan Hartley on key decision maker Tomas saw the French captain punch the hooker – ultimately to receive his marching orders on the half-hour.
And the woes continued for Montpellier before the break as home scrum dominance wore referee James Jones' patience thin as he blew and jogged under the uprights for 30-7 half-time arrears.
Upon the two teams' return from respective dressing rooms there was only going to be one side on the scoresheet as Ashton claimed the bonus point before prop Soane Tonga'uiha crashed over with a strong finish in the midst of more cards.
Next to receive his marching orders was hooker Rofes for a deliberate stamp at the breakdown before replacement Joan Caudullo was handed yellow as Montpellier ended the game three down.
However, Northampton had the final say as Paul Diggin strolled over and are now six points clear in Pool Two – stretching their unbeaten home record to 21 games.
Tries: Gray, Ansbro, Penalty, Ashton, Tonga'uiha, Diggin
Con: Myler 4, Everitt
Pen: Myler 3
Yellow card: Joan Caudullo (Montpellier) – failing to roll away on 77 minutes
Red card: Julien Tomas (Montpellier) – punch on 32 minutes, Fabien Rofes (Montpellier) – stamp on 74 minutes
Northampton: 15 Bruce Reihana (c), 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 James Downey, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Foden, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Scott Gray, 6 Mark Hopley, 5 Courtney Lawes , 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Tom Smith.
Replacements: 16 Paul Shields, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Christian Day, 19 Ben Lewitt, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Barry Everitt, 22 Paul Diggin.
Montpellier: 15 Olivier Sarramea, 14 Thierry Brana, 13 Oliver Smith, 12 Endrikus Lubbe, 11 Jean-Matthieu Alcalde, 10 Federico Todeschini, 9 Julien Tomas (capt), 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Vassili Bost, 6 Warren Britz, 5 Michel Macurdy, 4 Gancalo Uva, 3 Bruce Douglas, 2 Fabien Rofes, 1 Sebastien Petit.
Replacements: 16 Joan Caudullo, 17 Philemon Toleafoa, 18 Eugene Van Staden, 19 Benjamin Goze, 20 Jerome Vallee, 21 Adrien Tomas, 22 Sylvain Mirande.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)