Elliott scores hat-trick as Northampton Saints move back into play-off places

TRY GUY - Jamie Elliott is congratulated on one of his three tries against London Irish (pictures: Linda Dawson)
TRY GUY - Jamie Elliott is congratulated on one of his three tries against London Irish (pictures: Linda Dawson)

Jamie Elliott scored a hat-trick as Saints thrashed London Irish 40-14 at Franklin’s Gardens to move back into the Premiership play-off places.

Jim Mallinder’s men ran in six tries to pick up the full five points and avenge their 39-17 drubbing by Irish at the Madejski Stadium in October.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Elliott made it five tries in two games for him, while Samu Manoa, Soane Tonga’uiha and GJ van Velze also filled their boots and Stephen Myler kicked 10 points.

Irish, who remain in trouble at the bottom of the table, could only muster 14 points, from the boot of full-back Tom Homer and a late try from Guy Armitage.

But this was all about Saints as they shone in the Gardens sun to send their home fans home happy for a second weekend in succession.

They are now back up to fourth in the Premiership standings, following defeats for London Wasps and Gloucester on Friday night.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

With those results in mind, Saints had set out with a real incentive, which was added to by the poor showing at Irish in the reverse fixture.

There was a buzz around the Gardens as the players emerged, with the crowd whipped up into a frenzy in the absence of any backing music.

But it was to be Irish who started the quicker, going ahead early on through the steady boot of Homer.

Saints weren’t behind for long, though, as, after Manoa brilliantly gathered the kick-off, a move was put together that saw Myler release Elliott to score in the corner.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

It was a carbon copy of Elliott’s first score against Bath a week earlier, and Myler added the extras as Saints’ hopes of a third successive league win were put firmly back on track.

The home forwards, including England duo Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, had sun on their backs and the bit between their teeth, and Irish were struggling to cope.

Another penalty gave Myler the chance to make it 10-3, but he skewed his kick wide of the posts.

Irish might not have had the edge up front, but their backline had looked dangerous from the off, with the likes of Homer and Ian Humphreys enjoying the dry conditions.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Saints were forced to defend strongly as No.8 Jon Fisher surged towards the line, but the home side showed real appetite for the battle to hold out.

That gave them the impetus to attack and James Wilson went close to adding a second try, as he was just bundled into touch before he could cross the line.

Irish stopped the green, black and gold wave and moved back to within a point as Elliott ran into trouble, giving Homer a penalty to make it 7-6.

And the full-back then made it three from three as Saints conceded a penalty at the scrum to fall 9-7 behind as the break approached.

But the home pack and the unstoppable Manoa weren’t settling for that as the American pushed his way over the line.

Myler landed the conversion superbly from out wide and the Gardens faithful were on their feet in acclaim as the half-time whistle sounded, with Saints 14-9 up.

And Mallinder’s men soon set about ahmmering home their advantage as human steamroller Tonga’uiha ran over Marland Yarde to score.

Myler made it 21-9 with an easy conversion and Saints were sniffing blood as they went in pursuit of the fourth try, and a welcome bonus point.

As Irish reeled, the last thing they wanted to see was the huge figure of Brian Mujati, who came on to play for the first time since the penultimate day of December.

And the powerhouse prop had an immediate effect, playing his part in an unstoppable rolling maul as van Velze touched down to secure his side’s first bonus point since the win over Worcester in September.

Myler made it 28-9 and Saints were out of sight.

It was to get even more convincing, though, and Elliott was soon celebrating his fourth try in two games, racing home after receiving Wilson’s offload.

Myler missed the conversion, but it mattered not, as Saints were cruising and Irish were out of touch.

Armitage did manage to grab a consolation try with six minutes to go, but Homer missed the conversion.

And, as if rattled by Irish’s late effort, Saints responded with a superb score, Ryan Lamb kicking through for Elliott to complete his hat-trick.

Lamb converted and the gloss was put on a fine day’s work for Saints.

Saints: Foden; Wilson, G Pisi, May (Waldouck 55), Elliott; Myler (Lamb 62), Dickson (Roberts 62); Tonga’uiha (A Waller 59), Hartley (McMillan 67), Mercey (Mujati 51); Manoa (Sorenson 59), Day; Lawes, Dowson (Nutley 51), van Velze.

London Irish: Homer; Ojo, Armitage, Geraghty (Sa 71), Yarde; Humphreys, Phibbs (Moates 59); Lahiff (Yanuyanutawa 77), Lawson (Paice 51), Aulika (Halavatu 71); Skivington (Low 77), Evans; Garvey, Treviranus, Fisher (Gibson 71).

Replacements not used: Sinclair.

Referee: JP Doyle

Attendance: 12,465