Northampton promised to right the wrongs of their Aviva Premiership Rugby opening day loss against Bath Rugby this weekend and they did just that with an emphatic 32-10 win against newly promoted Bristol Rugby.
Andy Robinson’s men struggled with discipline as the Saints ran in four tries to secure the bonus point through George North, Louis Picamoles, Ken Pisi and Mike Haywood.
It was the penalty count that cost Bristol against Harlequins in week one during the London Double Header and it was more of the same this week against Northampton.
In the week Robinson warned his Bristol team to be aware of a wounded Northampton following their loss to Bath and in the opening exchanges it seemed they had failed to heed his warnings.
During the London Double Header Bristol’s penalty count was poor in their first Aviva Premiership Rugby outing of the season at home; they carried on their unwanted trend.
On four minutes ill-discipline handed Stephen Myler the opportunity to put Northampton ahead with a penalty.
While just four minutes later things got worse for Bristol as Welsh international North strolled over in the corner following an offload from England skipper Dylan Hartley for the game’s opening try – Myler was unable to add the extras.
Tusi Pisi reduced the arrears for Bristol to 8-3 with a penalty for the home side as Robinson’s men started to get a foothold in the game.
Bristol have played five previous Aviva Premiership Rugby matches at Ashton Gate, winning three and losing two but in the opening stages it looked unlikely that statistic would be added to.
Picamoles was next to go over for Northampton on 18 minutes as the Saints rumbled over from close range – the decision was referred to the TMO and after a delay the try was awarded – Myler this time adding the extras.
Then on 21 minutes as Northampton scored their third try of the game – this time Pisi going over in the corner.
To make matters worse Myler added the conversion to move Northampton into a comfortable 25-3 lead before the break.
Northampton had not lost both of their opening two encounters in Aviva Premiership Rugby since the inaugural season in 1997 and after their electric start against Bristol this statistic never looked like being repeated.
Bristol started the second half strongly and nearly scored within minutes of the restart as Tom Varndell flew down the line but he was bundled into touch just two metres short of the Northampton line.
The home side got back into the game 11 minutes into the second half – Ross McMillan going over under the posts to reward their dominance after the break, with Pisi adding the extras to leave the score at 25-10.
The penalty count improved after the break, with Bristol enjoying the bulk of possession and territory but they were unable to bridge the scoreboard gap.
Northampton added the bonus point score in the final minute of the game as Mike Haywood went over for the Saints, with Harry Mallinder adding the extras to leave the final score at 32-10.