Northampton Saints coach Jim Mallinder heaped praise on hat-trick scorer Tom Collins after he helped his team to a 38-18 win over Worcester Warriors.
Northampton were trailing shortly before the hour but an impressive finish, including Collins’ first senior hat-trick, pushed them into the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four.
Worcester played their part and were 15-12 up at the break after two tries from Val Rapava Ruskin and one from Wynand Olivier, but scores from Harry Mallinder, Lee Dickson and George Pisi secured the victory for Northampton.
“Tom is a cracking finisher and has good feet – he played well today. He is still young and still has parts of his game to work on, but he is showing a lot of promise,” said Mallinder.
“We have got some good wingers; Jamie Elliott has been playing well, but got a knock last week, and of course we have George, but it is nice to have youngsters from the area coming through.
“We talked about playing our fast wingers today, because we thought the track would be a bit firmer, and it was a good opportunity for Tom to play.
“We have won three of our last four games.
“It is not easy around this period with the internationals and players being away and coming back; it’s not an easy time to get all the lads organised.
“It is close, really tight at the top. We have to keep being positive, playing good rugby and we look forward to taking on Saracens next week.”
Worcester director of rugby Dean Ryan was disappointed his side couldn’t replicate their first half performance in the second period and bemoaned some defensive mistakes.
He said: “We contributed to their field position as much as their own pressure and you just can't do that.
“Not-straight throws, not getting our job right, and defensive errors mean you're always going to find yourself in that bottom corner.
“There were a lot of positives in the first half about the way we were playing the game, but you have to underpin it with some sounds foundations and today it wasn't good enough.
“We dropped the kick-off after half-time, and they scored from that. That has happened two or three times this year – other than telling people to catch the ball I'm not sure what else we can do.
“We can't have that error count and expect to play against the best sides. It is frustrating because it is some of the basics of the game.”
Northampton Saints: Foden, Pisi K, Burrell, Mallinder (Pisi G 50), Collins, Myler (Hanrahan 72), Dickson (Kessell 72), Waller A (Waller E 64), Haywood (Marshall 73), Brookes (Denman 73), Craig, Matfield, Gibson, Wood, Harrison (Fisher 70)
Not used: Dickinson
Worcester Warriors: Pennell, Heem, Olivier, Mills (Symons 66), Vuna, Heathcote (Lamb 66), Hougaard, Rapava Ruskin (Leleimalefaga 58), Bregvadze (Annett 66), Schonert (Johnston 58), O’Callaghan, Barry (Sanderson 34), Potgieter, Kirwan (Dowson 58), Van Velze
Not used: Baldwin
Tries: Mallinder, Collins 3, Dickson, Pisi G
Conversions: Myler 3, Hanrahan
Tries: Rapava Ruskin, Olivier
Penalties: Heathcote 2
Referee: Matt Carley