Tom Vickers’ Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks view and player ratings

KEY SCORE - Lee Dickson's try earned Saints a bonus point against Sale (picture by Kelly Cooper)
KEY SCORE - Lee Dickson's try earned Saints a bonus point against Sale (picture by Kelly Cooper)

Two home games, 10 tries, two bonus-point wins - Saints are good value at the Gardens right now.

Friday night’s win against Sale saw five scores, some sensational rugby and another comprehensive home success.

It’s all a world away from some of the performances on Northampton turf during the early part of last season, when tries were far from flowing.

The team may have started with five wins from five at the beginning of the previous campaign, but there wasn’t the level of excitement that exists currently.

Games were tigher, edgier and teams like Exeter and London Welsh pushed Saints all the way. There seemed to be a weight on the shoulders of the players.

Not now, though. Far from it. Despite the increase in expectation, the freedom is there for all to see. The belief is oozing from every pore.

But it’s not just since the summer; Saints have been sizzling since the back end of last season.

Then, teams such as London Irish and Sale were dispatched with ease at the Gardens, finding a Northampton team fizzing with belief hard to live with.

And Jim Mallinder’s men have certainly picked up where they left off, systematically dismantling the Chiefs and, on Friday night, Sale again.

Saints went in at the break with three tries under their belts. And there was never any doubt they’d add to their tally after the interval.

Not because Sale were bad. No, unlike in April when they were already on the beach, Steve Diamond’s men fought all the way.

They started strongly and refused to go away, despite shipping scores at regular intervals.

They even grabbed a try late on when it would have been easier to relax and think about that long journey back up the M6.

Saints, though, were just too good. They had too much confidence and too much power.

Yes, tougher tests lie in wait, especially in October when Leicester, Castres, Ospreys and Saracens provide the opposition.

But if the current wave of optimism and confidence remains, Saints fans will continue to get their money’s worth.

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

Provided good go-forward from full-back and was part of an impressive backs effort... 7

JAMIE ELLIOTT

One of his best games for Saints. The young wing seemed to be everywhere and was unlucky to be denied what would have been a stunning score... 8

GEORGE PISI

Got himself on the scoresheet and allied style with steel in the midfield to stake his claim for the 13 shirt at Leicester next week... 8

LUTHER BURRELL

Another big game from the big man, who did himself no harm in front of watching England boss Stuart Lancaster... 8

GEORGE NORTH

Got the monkey off his back by scoring his first Saints try and again showed how good he can be on the break... 7

STEPHEN MYLER

Celebrated his 200th appearance with a comprehensive victory. Accurate as always from the tee... 7

LEE DICKSON

Sparky showing from the scrum-half, who is giving new boy Kahn Fotuali’i a real fight for the Saints No.9 shirt... 8

ALEX CORBISIERO

Plenty of power from the England man, who was rested for the game at Gloucester a week earlier and looked fresh for it... 7

DYLAN HARTLEY

The captain was as influential as ever during the first half, softening up the Sale defence to help his team-mates turn on the style... 7

TOM MERCEY

Showed his power with a good performance in the loose and has established himself as a feature of this Saints side... 7

COURTNEY LAWES

Some massive hits from the lock, who must scare the life out of opposing attackers. One smash on Tom Arscott had the crowd wincing while cheering... 8

CHRISTIAN DAY

Limped off during the second half, but had already done his job with another strong all-round performance... 7

CALUM CLARK

Was hit with a yellow card during the first half, but that didn’t tarnish what was a good showing either side of the sin-binning... 7

PHIL DOWSON

Came into the starting line-up and had a big influence on the result as he showed his strength in the tackle... 7

SAM DICKINSON - CHRON STAR MAN

Another gargantuan game from the big No.8, who caused havoc for Sale with some big carries... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

SAMU MANOA (for Day 49)

Relished the chance to add to Saints’ performance, powering into the Sale rearguard and helping his side stay on the front foot... 7