Northampton Saints 48 Dragons 14: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Saints cruised past the Dragons on Saturday (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Saints cruised past the Dragons on Saturday (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

It's not often you see 10 tries and feel a game lacked a certain amount of excitement.

But so comfortable was Saints' success against the Dragons that entertainment was not in plentiful supply.

In truth, the gulf between these two teams has been evident not once, not twice but three times in recent months.

In pre-season, Saints rocked up at Rodney Parade and put their hosts to the sword, with James Fish scoring a hat-trick in a 42-10 win.

In October, it was another win in Newport, with a 21-0 first-half lead converted into a 35-21 victory.

And yesterday's win at the Gardens was the most comfortable of the lot for Chris Boyd's men.

Alex Mitchell impressed for Saints

Alex Mitchell impressed for Saints

The Dragons did have their moments, scoring twice and enjoying plenty of first-half possession.

But they lacked the power and creativity to really cause Saints any problems.

For Boyd's men, it was the perfect tonic after the last-gasp agony at the hands of Newcastle Falcons a week earlier.

But little was really learned about the black, green and gold due to the lack of real opposition from the Dragons.

Dan Biggar had a difficult day from the tee

Dan Biggar had a difficult day from the tee

The away side turned up late after their bus failed to arrive on time at Rodney Parade on the morning of the game.

They had opted not to pay for a Northampton hotel on the night before the game, and they paid the price with a 2pm arrival at the Gardens.

That poor preparation didn't do them any favours, but even if their build-up had gone to plan, it is unlikely they would have troubled Saints.

Players such as Api Ratuniyarawa, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Luther Burrell were simply too strong.

Taqele Naiyaravoro picked up two tries

Taqele Naiyaravoro picked up two tries

And during the second half, boredom set in for a spell as the win became so comfortable that it may have sent some supporters into a slumber.

But for Saints, it was job done. They received a welcome shot in the arm after a tough couple of weeks in the Premiership.

And though boss Boyd admitted there were 'some average performances' from some of his players, there were also plenty of positives.

Ollie Sleightholme again got on the scoresheet as his introduction to life at the top level continued at pace.

Alex Moon was again commanding in the second row and scrum-half Mitchell once again demonstrated his class with another sparky showing.

Dan Biggar steered his team around the field well and had kicking conditions been better, Saints would have won by far more than the 34 points they did.

All in all, it was about going through the motions, getting the bonus-point win that was always expected and moving on unscathed.

Saints will expect to finish a comfortable second, at least, in Pool 1, with the game at Clermont Auvergne in January at least providing some intrigue.

That was something that was certainly missing from yesterday's game, but all that mattered for the men in black, green and gold was the win they claimed at a canter.

How they rated...

GEORGE FURBANK

Didn't have long enough to make an impact as he was forced off after being knocked unconscious while making an important tackle on Dragons centre Jack Dixon

OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLME

It wasn't a surprise to see the young wing score again as he has been making a real habit of it since being given a go in the first team... 7

RORY HUTCHINSON

A decent enough return from the centre and the perfect game to do it in as Saints were by far the better side... 7

LUTHER BURRELL - CHRON STAR MAN

Two tries, a lovely assist and a dominant all-round display from the centre, who looked far too strong for the Dragons... 8

TAQELE NAIYARAVORO

Like Burrell, the big wing used his physicality to fine effect, finishing his chances well when they came. Was sin-binned during the first half, but it didn't matter... 7

DAN BIGGAR

Didn't have the easiest day from the tee as the position and conditions of the conversions made life tough, but he steered Saints around the pitch very well... 7

ALEX MITCHELL

This youngster has huge potential and he is realising it this season, bringing real tempo to his team, capping an impressive perfomance with a nice finish for a try... 8

ALEX WALLER

Certainly got stuck in, trying to get his hands on the ball and carry into traffic to help his team gain ground... 7

JAMES FISH

Likes scoring against the Dragons and he did so again here, rounding off a dominant lineout drive... 7

BEN FRANKS

Put himself about and took a knock for his troubles, taking some time off the pitch because of it before coming back on... 7

API RATUNIYARAWA

The big Fijian lock seemed to be everywhere for Saints, gaining plenty of metres and getting himself on the scoresheet... 8

ALEX MOON

Carried well once again, using his strength to keep Dragons on the back foot, displaying his development with another big showing... 7

JAMIE GIBSON

Was extremely lively, even taking to chasing down clearances as he did everything he could to keep Saints in the ascendancy... 7

TOM WOOD

Returned to the team after being rested the previous week and looked hungry to get involved at every turn... 7

TEIMANA HARRISON

Provided one of the stand-out moments of the game with a superb assist for Mitchell's try, and the No.8 continues to be one of his team's better performers this season... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

ANDREW KELLAWAY (for Furbank 5)

Rarely fails to impress this season and he was in the thick of the action after his early introduction... 7

WILL DAVIS (for Waller 52)

Came on to make his European debut and the job was done by the time he got on the field, but he still put himself about... 6

EHREN PAINTER (for Franks 52)

Made his return from injury and it was a nice, serene showing for the prop as Saints were firmly on the front foot... 6

MITCH EADIE (for Harrison 54)

Looked eager to make an impact after coming on and he took the fight to the Dragons as the Welsh side were overwhelmed... 6

REECE MARSHALL (for Fish 59)

Tried to get over the ball to stop Dragons getting any momentum and he never gives less than 100 per cent for every minute he is on the field... 6