Northampton Saints 66 Worcester Warriors 10: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

As East Midlands derby appetisers go, this was a pretty tasty one.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 11:36 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 11:38 am
Alex Mitchell was at the heart of everything for Saints

Saints warmed up for next weekend's clash with their local rivals with a 10-try, 66-point showing against what can only be described as a shell-shocked Worcester Warriors side.

It was the perfect way to pick things back up after a weekend off and a defeat at Wasps in the black, green and gold's previous outing.

But while this was a great boost for both momentum and belief, it wasn't perfect preparation.

Rory Hutchinson scored after intercepting inside his own half

That is because Saints took so many knocks during the game, two of which look certain to rule players out of the derby.

Ollie Sleightholme had to come off at half-time with a hamstring injury, while Piers Francis came on and then came off as he failed a head injury assessment.

There were several other, as Chris Boyd calls them, 'dings', with Courtney Lawes, Fraser Dingwall and Juarno Augustus among those receiving treatment.

Dan Biggar looked in pain as he slotted the final conversion and Saints will have to do a real patch-up job this week as they look to put a team together.

It was two tries on the night for Tommy Freeman

They are also set to be without their Jersey-bound England players - Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Tommy Freeman and George Furbank - for derby day.

And that means that while this win against Worcester could be celebrated, there was still a slightly sour taste in the mouth ahead of what is a mouthwatering fixture next week.

But those issues are for Monday and beyond.

For now, Saints can enjoy their weekend, safe in the knowledge that they have added another five Premiership points to their tally.

Tommy Freeman celebrated his England call-up with two tries

It is now three home wins from as many matches this season, and four victories from five overall.

It is the kind of start they would have hoped for ahead of the Tigers tussle, and they finally got to showcase their attacking game in full flow against Worcester.

Yes, they were afforded plenty of space as Warriors lacked any sort of defensive resolve, but the chances still had to be taken.

And the way Saints executed so many of their opportunities could only be described as ruthless.

Not only that, but it was a special night for so many, with milestones celebrating in style.

Biggar scored on his 50th Saints appearance, Mitchell grabbed a double in his 50th Premiership game, Tommy Freeman celebrated his England call-up with a brace of tries and, of course, there was Courtnall Skosan.

The South African winger made making his debut after joining from Sigma Lions, and what a dream night it turned out to be.

Skosan scored a hat-trick, including one incredibly acrobatic finish as he showed just why Saints have signed him.

He showcased an ability to sidestep players in a phone-box and some of his eye-catching finishing brought back memories of Premiership-winning star George Pisi.

There will be tougher defences to penetrate in the weeks and months to come, but this was the perfect introduction from Skosan.

And how he would love to continue his early hero status by scoring against Tigers next weekend.

Saints know that the Leicester clash will be a big step up, no matter who takes to the field.

And with the appetiser now done, it's time to get stuck into the main course.

How they rated...

TOMMY FREEMAN

A special week for the talented 20-year-old as he celebrated his England call-up with two tries and two assists. Was guilty of failing to give the final pass on a couple of occasions but more than made up for it... 8.5

OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLME

The only surprise on the night was that this man didn't score. He didn't have that long though as he was forced off with a hamstring injury at half-time... 6.5

FRASER DINGWALL

Another dominant display from the centre as he delivered a sensational assist for Freeman and did so many other impressive things... 9

RORY HUTCHINSON

Tried a little too much early on and saw his attempted clearance charged down, which led to Worcester's only try, but he more than made up for it, pulling the strings superbly and scoring a fine intercept... 8.5

COURTNALL SKOSAN

What a night for the new man! He looked secure under the high ball, defended well when he had to and, of course, finished when the ball came his way, notching a debut hat-trick... 9

DAN BIGGAR

What a warrior this guy is! He battled on through the pain in the second half, having scored in the first with a brilliant piece of awarness and execution... 9

ALEX MITCHELL - CHRON STAR MAN

An electric showing from the scrum-half as he set the tempo for his side, scoring twice and setting one up for Api Ratuniyarawa. Came back on after Piers Francis was forced off, and refused to let up... 9

ALEX WALLER

A more enjoyable outing for the experienced prop here as he helped to keep the scrum steady and looked to get involved in open play... 7

SAM MATAVESI

Always an important presence these days and he enjoyed the fast nature of the game in the formative stages... 7.5

PAUL HILL

Savoured the fact Saints had plenty of space in this game as he carried well when he got the chance, popping up across the pitch and doing his job in the set piece also... 7.5

DAVID RIBBANS

The second row ace was even afforded a rest before the end after a decent shift against a Worcester pack that was up against it... 7

API RATUNIYARAWA

A strong showing from the Fijian lock as he got his hands on the ball time and again, showing great desire and awarness to take his team towards and over the line... 8

COURTNEY LAWES

There was a worry for Saints when he went down during the second half but thankfully he was able to play on, continuing to carry the fight to Worcester in trademark fashion... 7.5

LEWIS LUDLAM

The skipper savoured this, getting involved all over the field, as usual, and putting real pressure on Worcester... 8

TEIMANA HARRISON

A typically active display from the No.8 as he charged forward with ball in hand and then made sure the door was locked when Worcester tried to summon some sort of attacking threat... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

PIERS FRANCIS (for Sleightholme 40)

This guy doesn't have much luck at all. He was forced off just 23 minutes after coming on and subsequently failed a head injury assessment... 6.5

TOM WOOD (for Lawes 54)

Was given the weekend off against Wasps and looked hungry for action as ever as he helped Saints keep their foot on the gas... 6.5

MANNY IYOGUN (for Waller 56)

The talented youngster will hope for plenty more chances in the weeks and months to come, and this will have been an enjoyable outing for him... 6.5

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Matavesi 56)

It's good for Saints to have this man back available as he provides some assurance from the bench, as well as plenty of desire... 6.5

EHREN PAINTER (for Hill 56)

Got his hands on the ball in attack on a few occasions as he looked to push past Worcester... 6.5

JUARNO AUGUSTUS (for Ludlam 57)

Another eye-catching cameo from the No.8, including one sensational offload that almost led to a try for Alex Coles... 7

FRANK LOMANI (for Mitchell 57)

The scrum-half has some shaky moments but he also has plenty of moments where you can see his class. He just needs more time to settle in and get used to Saints life... 6.5