Worcester Warriors 13 Northampton Saints 29: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Having seen what happened to Harlequins at Bath on the previous evening, Saints would have been wary of what was in store at Sixways.

By Tom Vickers
Sunday, 30th January 2022, 12:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 30th January 2022, 12:54 pm
Alex Mitchell scored a timely try for Saints at Sixways
Alex Mitchell scored a timely try for Saints at Sixways

Because although they had beaten Worcester in the previous eight meetings between the sides, Saints knew the Warriors would be sparked by a change in coaching staff during the week.

And with Bath having produced a hugely physical showing to pick up just their second win of the season against the champions on Friday night, the warning signs were there.

It was a reminder of how cut-throat the Premiership can be, with no team safe against another.

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And with Worcester starting with plenty of desire at Sixways, nerves could have crept into the Saints camp as they sought to stay in touch with the Premiership top four.

However, the first half showing that Chris Boyd's side produced proved to be the perfect antidote to the Warriors' renewed passion.

Saints, as they had done when winning at Newcastle Falcons a few weeks earlier, stood tall in defence, refusing to give Worcester a sniff close to the away line.

And when the chances came at the other end, Saints took them.

It was pretty scrappy but it was the kind of battling and clinical first 40 minutes you need on the road against any side, no matter where they sit in the table.

While Harlequins allowed Bath to look far better than their league position suggests, there was no repeat from Saints against Worcester in the first half.

In fact, the only problems the black, green and gold were having were ones caused by themselves as they coughed up a couple of lineouts in windy conditions.

But in the second half with Saints 22-3 up, the momentum swung.

Occasions when a team totally dominates a Premiership game with few scares are fairly few and far between, and so it proved here.

The Warriors kept fighting and they forced Saints to lose their composure, with the away side conceding twice in quick succession.

It looked like game on a 22-13 to Saints, but credit again must go to Boyd's side in how they snuffed out the threat once more.

They went up the other end and turned to their maul again to not only score the game-clinching try but also the one that ensured they grabbed another maximum haul.

Many of the players and coaches were able to jet off on to their respective holiday destinations with a win to enjoy.

And while they knew it was far from perfect, picking up five points away in the Premiership is so welcome, however it comes.

They were never going to have it as easy as on the previous two occasions against Worcester, when they racked up a total of 128 points, shipping just 24.

So Saints have to be applauded for how they handled this occasion in the week that Worcester shifted Steve Diamond into a position of extra power.

He may have had his team fired up, but the class of Saints told in the end.

How top-four rivals Harlequins would have loved to have said the same after their game at Bath.

How they rated...

AHSEE TUALA

Hadn't started for Saints since a tough night in Belfast in December, but this was a display that can really boost the full-back as he made a key intervention and some good breaks... 7

OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLME

Made one fantastic saving tackle to stop Ted Hill scoring during the second half but wasn't able to get close to replicate his previous four-try showing at Sixways... 6.5

FRASER DINGWALL

A proud day for the talented young centre as he skippered Saints for the first time, and he threw his heart and soul into this... 7

RORY HUTCHINSON

His fast feet opened the door for the first try, giving Saints some much-needed momentum, and he was a threat whenever he got the ball... 7

TOM COLLINS

Tried to make things happen for his team out wide but Worcester prevented him having much of an influence here... 6

DAN BIGGAR

A typically accomplished showing from the fly-half who didn't let thoughts of Six Nations captaincy cloud his mind at all... 7

ALEX MITCHELL

The scrum-half produced two crucial moments for his team, ghosting through a gap to score late in the first half and making a saving tackle during the second... 7

ALEX WALLER

Got through plenty of work for his team, playing his part in their lineout drives, but was punished on a few occasions by the referee... 6

SAM MATAVESI

The lineout didn't always function but that wasn't all his fault and his footwork in open play was, at times, sublime while he also etched his name on the scoresheet... 7

PAUL HILL

Made plenty of tackles and also a couple of his trademark Sixways breaks as he looked to be enjoying his day, though he did get penalised a couple of times... 6.5

DAVID RIBBANS

His desire to impress saw him get on the wrong side of the referee on a couple of occasions but he delivered a big shift in terms of tackles and carries... 6.5

API RATUNIYARAWA

Wasn't able to have the kind of impact he usually would expect to have but still played his part before coming off... 6

TOM WOOD

Kept motoring on until the end, bringing the game to its conclusion by winning a breakdown penalty as he showed just how much diesel he still has in the tank... 7.5

TEIMANA HARRISON - CHRON STAR MAN

This man was the catalyst for Saints during the first half, making metres every time he got the ball as well as delivering 15 tackles without missing one overall... 7.5

JUARNO AUGUSTUS

Didn't quite look as sharp as usual at times but still made some big carries for his team, keeping Worcester on their toes... 6.5

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

MANNY IYOGUN (for Waller 57)

Came into the game at a time when Worcester were starting to build some pressure but didn't do much wrong overall... 5.5

MATT PROCTOR (for Tuala 57)

Saints fans are happy to see him staying at the club after he signed a new deal earlier in the week, but he couldn't get too involved here as Saints had a tough second half... 5.5