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Saints too strong for sorry Exiles


Northampton's Stephen Myler contributed 13 points at London Welsh

Northampton's Stephen Myler contributed 13 points at London Welsh

Northampton's Stephen Myler contributed 13 points at London Welsh

Northampton Saints moved two points clear of second-placed Bath at the top of the Aviva Premiership as they heaped more grief on basement side London Welsh with a 43-14 victory.

First-half tries from flanker Calum Clark, fly-half Stephen Myler and lock Samu Manoa plus two Myler conversions put Northampton 19-0 up at the break, and they grabbed a bonus point win when wing Jamie Elliott went over for a converted score soon after the restart . England full-back Ben Foden, wing James Wilson and flanker Ben Nutley crossed for additional tries, with Myler converting one.

The hosts, who are yet to record a league victory this season, scored twice via prop Taione Vea that fly-half Gordon Ross converted plus centre Nic Reynolds' late try - converted by replacement Will Robinson - while Welsh came close to adding more tries on a couple of occasions.

Yet it was another reverse for the home side and the writing was on the wall early on at the Kassam Stadium when Northampton gained attacking line-out position 10 metres from the home line and then drove a maul, as the resistance disintegrated, for Clark to claim the unconverted try.

But, if the Saints thought they could go marching through the game at their leisure, they were mistaken as Welsh tenaciously opened up their game and caused a few headaches among the high-flying opposition.

The Exiles nearly got a try as a long movement from side to side in the Saints' half went across to the left touchline for flanker Peter Browne to be bundled into touch two metres short.

And Welsh caused Northampton onto the defensive around halfway and into the Saints' territory but never threatened to breach the organised visitors' line.

Northampton rode out the wave and - six minutes before the break - they began to flex their attacking muscles again to which the Exiles had no answer. The attacking line-out option was Northampton's most potent weapon.

From one of those, scrum-half Lee Dickson whipped the ball to centre Luthor Burrell who gave Myler the chance to charge through a limp home midfield to score a try he also converted.

After the home side were reduced to 14 men when prop Ricky Reeves was sin-binned at a ruck, another five-metre Saints line-out was rumbled around by the pack towards the home line before Manoa came up from the heap for the touchdown that Myler converted.

Two more tries while Reeves was off the pitch at the start of the second-half, from Elliott and Foden, secured the bonus point that took Northampton two points clear of Bath at the top of the table.

Back with a full complement of players, Welsh got a reward for their endeavour when number eight Lachlan McCaffrey drove to the line and Vea rumbled over from the ruck.

Saints' response was immediate as they rushed into the home danger area again and Wilson found a gap to saunter over from five metres.

Replacement Sam Dickinson was yellow-carded for Northampton 15 minutes from time but it made no difference. It was job done for Northampton and Nutley's try with eight minutes to go was just icing on the cake and Reynolds got a second converted consolation in the dying moments.

Northampton now go into Europe to play Italian outfit Treviso but will have a much tougher challenge in their next Premiership match - an East Midlands derby at Franklin's Gardens on December 20 against Leicester Tigers.