Stand-in skipper Ben Foden bagged a double as Northampton Saints stayed in the hunt for the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup with a thumping win over the Scarlets.
The Saints crossed eight times against a young line-up from West Wales who, with several Principality Premiership players in their midst, struggled to cope against their more experienced opponents.
Northampton now have to wait until Sunday, where they will be relying on a favour from Leicester Tigers of all teams, who would send their East Midlands rivals into the last eight with victory at Saracens.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 3, 2017
Billy McBryde claimed the game’s first points for the Scarlets with an early penalty, but that was a false dawn Northampton managed to strike from their first spell of pressure.
After the forwards’ initial surge had been repelled, man of the match Harry Mallinder moved the ball left to Ahsee Tuala, who in turn looped it on to Foden, who managed to squeeze over in the corner.
Stephen Myler couldn’t convert the former England man’s 50th score for Saints, but the visitors hit back through a superbly-taken try by Tom Williams, which McBryde converted, to lead 10-5.
In what was turning into an open contest, Saints went ahead again when Jamie Gibson finished well down the right before Dafydd Hughes couldn’t hold on to Dion Jones’ off-load at the other end.
Foden then opened some daylight between the two sides when he grabbed his second by rising above Morgan Griffiths to claim Myler’s perfectly-weighted cross-field kick.
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) February 3, 2017
Northampton then secured the bonus point with the final play of the first half, when lock Michael Paterson grounded the ball off the back of a driving maul following a line-out.
It took just four minutes of the second half to score again, as Nic Groom collected from Sam Dickinson off the back of a scrum before sending Mallinder under the posts.
It was turning into a rout and try number six for Saints soon followed as Ken Pisi got on the end of Mallinder’s pass to score off a big overlap down the left.
James Fish then claimed his first senior try, as the 20-year-old hooker benefitted from another driving maul against the outgunned Scarlets pack.
Fish missed out on a second when he knocked on down the right wing after Alex Waller delayed his pass with two players outside him.
But there was one last score left in Northampton and it was deju vu for Fish, as he claimed another pushover try, with Myler’s conversion bringing up the half-century.