Northampton Saints 47 Leicester Tigers 20: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Tom Collins scored for Saints against Leicester (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Tom Collins scored for Saints against Leicester (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

It wasn't the polished performance Saints would have hoped for - but it was enough to propel them into the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-finals.

And how important that is for the club right now.

Not because the competition is the most glamorous or highly prized, but because it keeps the winning habit in place at Saints.

Making the knockout stages of competitions is what successful clubs pride themselves on.

And Saints have now reached that stage in both cup tournaments they are taking part in this season.

The Challenge Cup might not be the Champions Cup and the Premiership Rugby Cup might not be the Premiership, but they still matter.

Dom Barrow delivered a try against his old club

Dom Barrow delivered a try against his old club

And for a Saints squad going through the formative stages of a fresh era at Franklin's Gardens, qualification is key.

What is even more important is turning those appearances in the knockout stages into trophies.

Silverware breeds belief.

Saints remain in contention in three competitions, even if winning the Premiership looks a hugely ambitious ask this season.

There were the standard derby-day scraps

There were the standard derby-day scraps

And the fact that this team is developing the hunger and winning habit can only be a good thing.

No, they were not at their best against Tigers.

In fact, when the men (and boys) from up the M1 got back to just six points down with 11 minutes to go, there was a fear that Saints might slip up.

But they kept their cool and relied on class act Cobus Reinach to provide a typically clever finish that took the stuffing out of Tigers.

Jamie Gibson was in the thick of it against his former club

Jamie Gibson was in the thick of it against his former club

From then on, it was a cruise for Saints as they stuck a couple more daggers into their old enemy.

And it was a sweet success for the sizeable crowd at the Gardens to enjoy.

It is clear that the appetite for watching the black, green and gold in action is starting to return, judging by attendances for games against Exeter and Leicester.

And the ambitious style of rugby that is currently being played is probably helping to boost gates.

Saints didn't just want penalties against Tigers, they wanted tries.

They went for the corner at every possible opportunity and the same could be said for playing from deep as the Super Rugby style continued to flow into Northampton.

Cobus Reinach scored twice to seal the win for Saints

Cobus Reinach scored twice to seal the win for Saints

It didn't always pay off, but it was always worth watching.

And Saints eventually got the maximum haul they wanted after scoring seven tries to add to the 17 they registered against Timisoara eight days earlier.

The opposition might not have been the strongest during the past couple of weeks, but you can only beat what is in front of you.

And Saints will now hope they can continue to do that in the cup semi-finals in a couple of weeks' time.

The fact they have a final-four tie to look forward to is vital not only in pursuit of silverware but as they prepare to return to the Premiership on February 16.

Had Saints been knocked out at the pool stages of the cup, they would have had three weeks without a game before hosting Sale Sharks.

As it is, they will be match-sharp thanks to the semi-final the week before the Sharks come calling.

And that could prove vital as they look to sink Steve Diamond's men.

But for Saints for now, it is all about looking forward to a semi-final.

They haven't had many in recent years, having regularly appeared in the knockout stages of competitions during the glory days under Jim Mallinder and Dorian West.

Northampton thrived on those win or bust ties. They were a staple diet.

That is exactly what Saints will hope they can become under Boyd in the years to come.

And the new boss has certainly not got off to a bad start on that mission!

How they rated...

GEORGE FURBANK

Constantly made things happen for Saints and although he was unlucky to concede a charge-down try, his positives massively outweighed that moment. A fine display... 8

KEN PISI

Made his long-awaited return from injury and was quickly into the action as he helped to set up James Grayson's score... 7

NAFI TUITAVAKE

Always looked to make inroads into the Tigers defence and used his tidy footwork to keep them on their toes... 6

RORY HUTCHINSON

Employed some good game management at times and looked sharp once again as he threatened when he got his hands on the ball... 7

TOM COLLINS

Usually etches his name on the scoresheet, and it was no different here as he found the finish to cap a strong showing... 7

JAMES GRAYSON

Is getting better with every game, growing in maturity and pulling the strings with authority for Saints... 8

COBUS REINACH - CHRON STAR MAN

The South African scrum-half was superb again, scoring two more tries. He just edges out Furbank and Harrison for the star man award thanks to the key timing of his first try... 8

FRANCOIS VAN WYK

A big shift from the prop as he lasted for close to the 80 minutes as he continued to show his credentials... 7

JAMES FISH

Grabbed another try for his collection and even tried one ambitious offload that didn't quite come off as his confidence continued to show... 7

BEN FRANKS

Carried well and looked hungry for action but did drop the ball a couple of times and Tigers were up for it at the scrum... 6

API RATUNIYARAWA

Made some huge carries for his team, drawing admiring cheers from the home fans as he smashed into Tigers time and again... 7

DOM BARROW

Looked delighted to score his first Saints try against one of his former clubs and was a powerful presence during his time on the field... 7

JAMIE GIBSON

Popped up everywhere from the breakdown to the wing for Saints as he covered plenty of ground once again and savoured the scrap against his former club... 7

HEINRICH BRUSSOW

Another all-action showing from the South African flanker, who seemed to be everywhere once again and bagged Saints' bonus-point score... 8

TEIMANA HARRISON

Was given the role of captain for the day and totally embraced it, leading his team superbly from start to finish... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

EHREN PAINTER (for Franks 56)

Loves a scrum and certainly savoured the chance to get stuck into Tigers under pressure during the second half... 6

ALEX MOON (for Barrow 56)

Always adds some good energy and strength to the game, and this was no different as he did little wrong... 6

ANDREW KELLAWAY (for Tuitavake 58)

Made one telling burst that had Tigers scrambling and continues to look like a very useful signing for Saints... 6