Northampton Saints ran away from London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday but director of rugby Jim Mallinder insists it was not easy going against Aviva Premiership Rugby’s bottom club.
The champions edged into a first-half lead, Calum Clark crossing over early on before Stephen Myler and Samu Manoa created some daylight shortly before the break.
In the second half Taione Vea and Nic Reynolds dotted down for the home side – still searching for their first win since returning to the top flight – but it was never going to be enough.
Jamie Elliott, Ben Foden and James Wilson each scored within 11 minutes of the restart, while Ben Nutley rounded off the scoring for the Saints – Stephen Myler converting four of the seven tries.
But while incisive finishing caught the eye, Mallinder insists his pack’s dogged determination up front was the key ingredient in Oxford.
“It was very satisfying. You've got to enjoy every win you have,” he said.
“We had to work hard in the first half, but the forwards got on top particularly in the maul and gave us a cushion.
“Second half, we went on to score some good tries, but a lot of credit to London Welsh – they played well, tested us and scored two good tries themselves.
“You just need to build your score and get ahead as quickly as you can because you don't want it being tight going into the closing stages.
“That's why it's great that the forwards got a grip of the game and it helped with them going down to 14 men.
“We went down to 14 in the second half and were put under a bit of pressure, conceding a try.
“We're very happy with coming down here and getting game time for all 23 of our players. We made a few changes in the second half and we got the five points.”
Meanwhile, London Welsh assistant coach Ollie Smith admitted a European Rugby Challenge Cup fortnight will be a welcome distraction for the Exiles.
“It will be good for us to have a change of focus going into the Challenge Cup now,” he said.
“It allows us to take a step back and discuss what we've got out of the period of league fixtures, what improvements we've made and what we can continue to improve.
“We've got some players like Piri Weepu and Olly Barkley who are back running and not far away from returning. We're hoping they'll be back soon.
“It's about a balance for us of not bringing them back too early and managing players, but there's a few players who should come into contention in the next few weeks.
“Our target is to remain in the Premiership and selection will have a bearing on that.
“We'll discuss things in the selection meeting this week but we're not going to go to Edinburgh and roll over.”
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London Welsh: Jewell (Awcock 73); Stegmann, Reynolds, May, Scott; Ross (Robinson 73), Rowley (Lewis 59); Reeves (Trevett 47), Vella (Morris 61); Vea (Cooper 68); Schofield (Corker 66), Down; Browne, Kirwan (Pienaar 62), McCaffrey
Northampton Saints: Foden; Elliott, Stephenson, Burrell (Waldouck 54), Wilson; Myler (K Pisi 61), Dickson (Fotuali'i 67); A Waller (E Waller 50), Haywood (McMillan 65), Ma’afu (Denman 50); Manoa (Dickinson 56), Day (Harrison 54); Clark, Nutley, Dowson
Tries: Vea, Reynolds
Conversions: Ross, Robinson
Tries: Clark, Myler, Manoa, Elliott, Foden, Wilson, Nutley
Conversions: Myler 4
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth