Northampton boss Jim Mallinder hailed his side’s bonus-point win against Bristol as the Saints bounced back from an opening day Premiership Rugby loss to Bath.
For the second week running Bristol were the architects of their own downfall, giving away countless penalties but Mallinder was delighted with the ruthless streak displayed by Northampton in the 32-10 success.
The Saints ran in four tries to secure the bonus point through George North, Louis Picamoles, Ken Pisi and Mike Haywood.
And Mallinder insisted there was still more to come from Northampton despite the comprehensive performance.
“Overall, I am pleased to get five points, particularly after last week. We needed to win, and in the first half we were very good,” Mallinder said.
“We needed to come here, shut the crowd up and in a way put massive doubt into Bristol’s mind that they could play at this level. That was our intention.
“Bristol has got something about them. They will find it difficult – everyone knows it is tough – and I think it is the home games they have really got to focus on. If they keep improving, there is a chance they can win some games here.
“Credit to Bristol, they came back into it and showed the spirit they’ve got in the second half, but we got there in the end.
“Our set-piece went well; we put the ball into the right areas and really put them under pressure and made them make a lot of mistakes in the first half.”
England skipper Dylan Hartley was withdrawn from the action at the interval but Mallinder played down fears his hooker was a doubt for the autumn internationals.
“Dylan has just got a little bit of a sore back,” Mallinder added. “We’ve got Mike Haywood back from injury now, so we thought it was a real good time to swap that over.
“He (Hartley) has had a bit of a sore back for a couple of weeks, so he has just been looking after himself.”
Bristol rugby director Andy Robinson said: “We were schooled on how to play rugby in that first half, particularly Premiership rugby.
“It’s a very difficult juggernaut to stop once it gets a rhythm, and we found that in the first 25 minutes.
“As soon we stopped being rabbits in the headlights and we found a little bit of our rhythm… but it is about taking your opportunities, and Northampton took their chances well.
“You saw the improvement in the second half, but we can’t afford to give the opposition a head start in the way that we did with Northampton today. We have got to look at how we can put pressure on the opposition.
“We under-performed in the first half, and we got punished. That’s what the Premiership is about.
“We knew that this month was going to be tough for us. Northampton are a top-five side, and they showed that in the way they played.”
Bristol Rugby: Wallace; Edwards, Hurrell, Mosses (Jarvis, 69), Varndell; Pisi, Cliff (Williams, 65); Tonga’uiha (Traynor, 57), McMillan (Brooker, 60), Cortes (Perenise, 61), Evans (Phillips, 54), Glynn, Fisher (Eadie, 55), Lam, Crane (Robinson, 61).
Northampton Saints: Tuala (Foden, 69); K. Pisi, G. Pisi (Mallinder, 46), Burrell, North; Myler, Dickson (Groom, 45); Waller (Ma’afu, 66), Hartley (Haywood, 41), Brookes (Hill, 62), Lawes, Paterson (Dickinson, 57), Wood, Harrison (Gibson, 68), Picamoles.
Tries: North, Picamoles, K Pisi, Haywood
Conversions: Myler 2, Mallinder
Penalties: Myler 2
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys