Tom Vickers’ Northampton Saints v Treviso review and player ratings

HAT-TRICK HERO - Ken Pisi (centre) is congratulated by Kahn Fotuali'i and Ethan Waller (picture: Sharon Lucey)
HAT-TRICK HERO - Ken Pisi (centre) is congratulated by Kahn Fotuali'i and Ethan Waller (picture: Sharon Lucey)
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There was plenty of talk about congestion on Northampton roads on a busy sporting Saturday, but at Franklin’s Gardens there was only fast-flowing, one-way traffic.

Saints stormed to an 11-try success that, at times, bordered on cruelty against Italians as Treviso were tortured.

The convincing nature of the 67-0 win was emphasised by a 13-minute second-half hat-trick for Samu Manoa as Jim Mallinder’s men picked at the bones of their opponents.

Treviso were already battered, bruised and bedraggled by the time the American entered the fray and he proceeded to pile on the misery.

Not to be outdone, Ken Pisi also helped himself to a treble as the try-fest went into overdrive.

It provided a welcome helping of festive cheer at the Gardens ahead of next Saturday’s clash with Leicester Tigers on the same turf.

And such was the joviality of the home supporters, they even broke out into a chorus of The Twelve Days of Christmas during a rare second-half lull.

Saints already had everything they wanted, with Ben Foden’s late gift-wrapped score merely the partridge on the pear tree.

It was another stunning display of what this Northampton team are capable of and, if they can keep their foot on the accelerator in the final two pool games, they will be feared.

Racing Metro are now a point behind in the race for top spot and Saints’ destiny is in their own hands.

And after the opening-day defeat in Paris, that was all you could ask for at the turn of the year.

It is a good situation to be in and the first couple of weeks of December have certainly been productive.

Mallinder has been able to shuffle his star-studded pack, keeping them fresh for the fights ahead.

Whereas Leicester and Harlequins - the next two opponents - have faced blood and thunder battles with Toulon and Leinster respectively.

In the previous two seasons, it has been Saints who have taken on Europe’s elite in the top tier tournament in the final month of the year.

But, this time, the schedule has been kinder and they have been able to rack up huge points totals without having to fully stretch themselves.

That was certainly the case on Saturday as the bench was utilised to add keep the foot on the throat of Treviso.

And Saints know they must not keep motoring on as they bid to remain top of Pool 5 and at the summit of the Premiership.

How they rated...

JAMES WILSON - CHRON STAR MAN

It’s not often two players score hat-tricks and lose out on the man of the match award to someone who doesn’t cross once, but this man was that good... 9

KEN PISI

Grabbed himself a treble and was always hunting tries, proving a constant thorn in the side of Treviso... 9

GEORGE PISI

Made his first start since pulling his hamstring at Racing Metro in October and was a force throughout, muscling his way over for a merited score... 8

TOM STEPHENSON

Continues to catch the eye and this was a performance full of panache as he caused constant problems for the Italian outfit... 8

GEORGE NORTH

Combined with Stephenson to set up a sensational Ken Pisi score and also etched his own name on the scoresheet in another superb showing... 8

STEPHEN MYLER

Steady and assured, he didn’t need to do anything too fancy as Saints were too quick for their opponents... 7

KAHN FOTUALI’I

Flashy and razor-sharp, the Samoan scrum-half bamboozled Treviso with a stunning score and also played his part in numerous others... 9

ETHAN WALLER

Came into the team in place of brother Alex and produced another reputation-enhancing performance... 7

DYLAN HARTLEY

The club captain was back for his first starting since autumn international duty and he led the charge with a solid display... 7

SALESI MA’AFU

Made a couple of big hits and came close to scoring a try in the second half in a strong display... 7

SAM DICKINSON

Played at lock for the second week in succession and played a big part in the win, showing power and precision... 7

COURTNEY LAWES

Was denied a try by the TMO, but it mattered not as the imposing lock impressed around the park, making some important interventions at the breakdown... 7

CALUM CLARK

The turnover king continues to shine as he stopped any early momentum Treviso tried to earn and also proved a handful in attack... 8

TOM WOOD

The power of a flanker and, at times, the feet of a back, the England star enjoyed his afternoon and even threw in a cheeky second-half sidestep... 8

PHIL DOWSON

Thrived during the autumn international period and has continued his fine form into the current month... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

BEN FODEN (for North 43)

Came on at a time when Saints were really starting to strangle Treviso and relished the space he was given, grabbing a late try to cap a fine team display... 7

LUTHER BURRELL (for Myler 51)

Saw plenty of the ball after coming on and helped start moves that ended across the Treviso tryline... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Hartley 54)

Got the chance to have a breather after starting a string of games during the autumn, but he did well when he came on... 6

GARETH DENMAN (for Ma’afu 54)

Saints were well on top in all areas when he came on, but he continued the forward dominance and helped keep the pressure on... 6

SAMU MANOA (for Clark 60)

A stunning cameo as he scored a 13-minute hat-trick, including a score you’d expect to see from a full-back rather than a No.8... 9

LEE DICKSON (for Fotuali’i 60)

The job was done when he entered proceedings but his approach never changes as he continued to spark Saints attacks... 6