Northampton Saints produced a classy six-try performance to see off Newcastle Falcons 44-15 at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Northampton put in a clinical six-try showing to see off Newcastle 44-15 at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
It was not the World Cup returnees who got the ball rolling for the Saints as, having exchanged penalties early on, former Newcastle utility back Tom May struck twice in quick succession to give Northampton a 15-3 lead.
Momentum then slowed for the East Midlands side as Courtney Lawes was sinbinned midway through the first half and Jimmy Gopperth chipped away at their lead with two more penalties and a drop-goal.
Ryan Lamb did reply with a penalty of his own right on the stroke of half-time but the Falcons were still well in the game with the score 18-12.
Whatever Jim Mallinder said to his side during the interval had an instant impact though as they came out firing and scored their third try after just three minutes through Russian international Vasily Artemyev.
Ten minutes later the 24-year-old Russian crossed the line again to score his sixth try in just three games for his new club and secure a bonus point for Northampton.
Newcastle continued to battle away but mustered very little in attack as the Saints took advantage of their very strong bench and made a host of changes midway through the second half.
Chris Ashton remained on the field though and was in no mood to let the game fizzle out as he ran in two late tries and ensured Northampton maintained their high standards.
The 44-15 victory is just the Saints' third of the season in the league but they will be hoping for many more now their World Cup stars are back, whilst Newcastle remain rooted to the bottom of the table with just a solitary win.
Tries: May 2, Artemyev 2, Ashton 2
Con: Lamb 3, Myler
Pen: Lamb 2
Pen: Goppperth 4
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 Tom May, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Phil Dowson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Scott Armstrong.
Newcastle: 15 Jeremy Manning, 14 Luke Eves, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Rikki Sheriffe, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 8 Ally Hogg (c) 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Andrew van der Heijden, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Joe Graham, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Ashley Wells, 18 Dan Frazier, 19 Glen Townson, 20 Redford Pennycook, 21 Jordi Pasqualin, 22 Alex Tait, 23 Greg Goosen
Referee: JP Doyle