Northampton Saints 27 Bath 26: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Saints were all smiles at the final whistle (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Saints were all smiles at the final whistle (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same... you'll be a man, my son.

Those wise words from Rudyard Kipling's If could be applied to Saints as their coming of age continued at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday afternoon.

Seven days earlier, they met with triumph, running riot in a 67-17 evisceration of Sale Sharks.

And though their most recent outing would not quite have been labelled a disaster had they lost it late on, they still faced a sizeable challenge when the clock struck 80.

They had been placed in a hugely difficult situation by a stubborn Bath team who used all the tricks in the book in a streetwise away-day showing.

And it looked like the previous week's stroll in the Gardens was going to be a distant memory as Saints mounted one final attack.

Tom Wood was a towering figure for Saints

Tom Wood was a towering figure for Saints

But they kept their composure, kept fighting and eventually battled their way over the line from the final play of the game.

At 23, David Ribbans continues to show a maturity, and ability, way beyond his years and his quick tap penalty and drive over the line set up the win.

James Grayson, another young gun, applied the finishing touches to make sure of the win.

And it was soon announced that yet another prodigious talent had claimed the man of the match prize as Alex Mitchell deservedly claimed the award after a sparky showing.

Alex Mitchell scored a deserved try

Alex Mitchell scored a deserved try

Yes, once again, these Saints youngsters stepped up, alongside some wise senior colleagues such as Tom Wood, Luther Burrell and Jamie Gibson.

They kept their heads when everyone was blaming referee Ian Tempest, they trusted themselves when everyone was doubting whether this would be their day.

And once again the world was at their feet with a seventh successive Gardens success secured.

They have faced myriad different challenges during that spell, and they have passed the test every time.

Taqele Naiyaravoro was tough to stop

Taqele Naiyaravoro was tough to stop

And perhaps the win against Bath should be classed as the most satisfying of the lot.

Because it was the kind of win that top-four contenders claim.

When you're not at your best, you need the ability to dig in.

And you need the ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Saints have been on the wrong end of that so many times during the past few years.

But the tables are now turning.

Saints fans basked in the Franklin's Gardens sun

Saints fans basked in the Franklin's Gardens sun

Saints now have their belief back, and the roar that greeted Saturday's win showed, once again, that the fans are now totally back on side.

They too believe in this team.

And it is so refreshing after a few years when it felt like a cloud needed lifting as the team continually failed to live up to the expectation created by years of building towards, and eventually achieving, glory.

Entertainment is well and truly back at the Gardens, in many forms.

Supporters are starting to fall back in love with their team after times when it must have felt they trudged to the Gardens out of loyalty rather than an expectation of entertainment.

No, Saturday was not anywhere near as slick as wins against the likes of Wasps and Sale.

But it showed that Saints can do both sides of the game, allying substance with style.

Now they will be asked to do that and more when they travel to a Saracens team who have inflicted such misery on them in recent years.

But it is fair to say Saints have not been in as good a shape as this going to Allianz Park for some time.

How they rated...


Always has a say these days and he did some good work in the build-up to Hutchinson's score, producing a lovely long pass on another eventful afternoon for the full-back... 7


Wasn't really able to get too involved in the game but did what he could when he got a chance to get some possession... 6


The centre has been consistently influential in recent weeks and this was another big display as he scored, defended well and was creative once again... 8


Looked lively during the first half, showcasing some quick footwork, but was eventually forced off after taking a heavy knock to the head... 6


Bath found space around him to score a couple of times as Saints left gaps in the defence, but he was always difficult to stop at the other end of the pitch... 6


Enjoyed a 100 per cent afternoon with the boot and can be pleased with another assured fly-half showing... 7


Was a bright spark all game, constantly trying to find gaps in the Bath defence and eventually scoring a deserved try. Also made a vital tap tackle on Jonathan Joseph... 8


Took a knock during the first half but battled on to re-emerge for the second half and though things didn't always go his way, he kept fighting for his team... 6


Wasn't totally on target with lineouts but that wasn't all his fault and his appetite could never be questioned... 6


Looked hungry for action from the start, pushing Bath back with some decent carries and staking his claim for more starts... 7


The lock has been so consistent this season, proving too heavy for many teams to handle with the ball in his hands, and he made the key contribution here, scoring the vital try... 8


Wasn't as influential as he had been against Sale a week earlier but he carried well on a few occasions... 6


Was a tough ask to come straight back in after a spell out and though Bath did test him defensively, he had plenty of involvement going forward, carrying hard... 6


Was fired up from the off, relishing the physical battle and though that got him on the wrong side of the referee on a few occasions, he was a real nuisance for Bath... 7


Celebrated his new contract with another big performance, getting involved heavily in attack and defence, again showcasing a tidy passing game... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

LUTHER BURRELL (for Francis 39)

Was given a warm welcome by the home fans after the announcement that he will be leaving at the end of the season and he tried to make his presence felt... 6

JAMIE GIBSON (for Haskell 50)

A great man to be able to bring from the bench as he tried to steady the Saints ship and frustrate Bath... 6

FRANCOIS VAN WYK (for Waller 55)

Has been in good form in recent weeks and this was another successful outing for the South African prop... 6

JAMES FISH (for Marshall 55)

Has enjoyed a strong season and this was a useful 25-minute cameo as he helped his team get over the line... 6