Nine-try Saints wrap up pre-season with emphatic win over Ulster

Two-try Tom Collins in action for Saints in their big win over Ulster at Franklin's Gardens (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Two-try Tom Collins in action for Saints in their big win over Ulster at Franklin's Gardens (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Tom Collins, Alex Mitchell and Michael Paterson all scored two tries as Saints wrapped up their pre-season campaign in emphatic style with a 55-15 win over Ulster at Franklin’s Gardens.

Following a tight first half, Saints powered to victory after the break, scoring nine tries in total as they swamped Ulster, who also had two players sin-binned on a miserable evening.

The win sets Saints up nicely for their opening Aviva Premiership clash of the season next Saturday, when they travel to Twickenham to face European champions Saracens.

The night couldn’t have started any better for Saints, with Ben Foden sliding over for the opening try after just two minutes, although Harry Mallinder missed the conversion from out wide.

On 10 minutes Saints scored their second try, Kieran Brookes powering over for his first score in Northampton colours, and this time Mallinder was on target as the home side opened up a 12-0 lead.

Ulster were well in the game at this point though, and despite having Callum Black sin-binned on 14 minutes, they reduced the arrears six minutes later when Charles Piutau scored out wide.

John Cooney missed the conversion, but the Irish side were back in the match at 12-5.

The score stayed the same until half-time, and jist four minutes into the second half, Cooney nailed a penalty and the visitors were just 12-8 behind.

But if Ulster thought they had Saints on the rack, they were thinking again seconds later as Collins went over for his first try, and the home side were back in control at 17-8.

On 56 minutes Ulster’s Chris Henry was yellow-carded, and this time Saints took full advantage of their extra man, running in three tries, with one from Collins and two from replacement Mitchell.

Three conversions, one from Mallinder and two from his replacement James Grayson, saw Saints pull out a commanding 38-8 lead, and from then on it was a case of how many the home side would score.

Paterson, another of the raft of second half replacements, then got in on the act, scoring a try on the 70th minute which Grayson converted, before the fly-half also scored a five-pointer.

That meant Saints led 50-8, and although Ulster responded with a try from David Shanahan that Brett Herron converted, it was Paterson who had the final say, dotting down to seal a handsome 55-15 victory.

All in all, a very positive night for Saints, who also saw British & Irish Lion Courtney Lawes return to Gardens action as a second-half replacement

Starting line-ups

Saints: Ahsee Tuala; Ben Foden, Luther Burrell, Rory Hutchinson, Tom Collins; Harry Mallinder, Nic Groom; Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley, Kieran Brookes, James Craig, Christian Day, Teimana Harrison, Lewis Ludlam, Mitch Eadie

Ulster: Charles Piutau; Louis Ludik, Tommy Bowe, Stuart McCloskey, David Busby; Peter Nelson, John Cooney; Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Robbie Diack, Alan O’Connor, Clive Ross, Chris Henry, Jean Deysel

Scores

Saints: Tries - Collins 2, Paterson 2, Mitchell 2, Foden, Brookes, Grayson. Cons: Mallinder 2, Grayson 3

Ulster: Tries - Piutau, Shanahan. Pen: Cooney. Con: Herron