Mallinder savours Saints' success
Northampton boss Jim Mallinder felt his side produced one of their best performances as they humbled Bath 31-10 at Franklin's Gardens to move top of the Aviva Premiership table.
The Saints and their visitors had both made unbeaten starts to the season, but the hosts, for whom flanker Phil Dowson and two-try wing Chris Ashton were magnificent, showed their title credentials with a powerful display.
And Mallinder was understandably delighted with his team's emphatic win and said: "That performance was right up there with our best. The first half was exciting when Bath looked dangerous but we did well not to concede a try."
Dowson and Joe Ansbro also went over in the bonus-point success, while Shane Geraghty kicked three penalties. Bath could only muster a late score through Ben Williams, converted by Sam Vesty, plus a penalty from Olly Barkley.
Saints, who have now recorded three straight wins at the start of a Premiership season for the first time, had only led 11-3 at the break, but Dowson set up Ashton less than 30 seconds into the second stanza to put Northampton into a dominant position, and Mallinder admitted that score had been key.
"The difference came in the opening period of the second half. The forwards got totally on top; we totally dominated in the scrums. Some of our driving play was excellent and we got some good quality quick ball," Mallinder added. "I'm delighted to have won this game but we won't get carried away."
There were a couple of injury concerns for Mallinder though, as Ashton and Ben Foden picked up knocks and the Saints boss confirmed they will be assessed in the week.
Steve Meehan, his Bath counterpart, could not hide his disappointment as his side's own title ambitions were dealt an early blow.
"That performance was way short of our standards and it's a very early wake-up call in the season," said the Australian. "Everybody was well motivated, we had a good warm-up but we lost the physical battle especially at the breakdown. It was very disappointing.
"For the first 20 minutes of the second half we couldn't control the ball at all and at times our defence was non-existent."