Ben Foden inspired Northampton Saints to a bonus-point victory over Bath at Franklin’s Gardens although the defending Aviva Premiership Rugby champions had to cling on at the end.
The England full-back was in irrepressible form in attack and defence as a penalty try and scores from Calum Clark, Christian Day and George Pisi were enough to see off Bath although the previously unbeaten visitors did stage a late fightback.
Bath’ 14-year wait for a win at Franklin’s Gardens goes on but they would have come in with high hopes after last weekend’s record-breaking defeat of Leicester.
But while Davey Wilson did cross the whitewash in the first half and Olly Woodburn and Nick Auterac grabbed scores late on it was Saints who put the game to bed with a fast start to the second half.
The hosts came flying out of the blocks and should have had the first try of the match after Foden’s searing break.
The ball was spread right in the next phase and with Bath scrambling to realign in defence, full-back Luke Arscott tried to intercept Kahn Fotuali’i’s pass but could only succeed in knocking on earning himself ten minutes in the sin bin and gifting Saints a penalty try.
Bath were struggling in the scrum and after another penalty was conceded Saints had the platform for the game’s second try, Clark burrowing over in the right corner after a fine initial break by George Pisi.
Stephen Myler added the extras again and with only quarter of an hour played the Franklin’s Gardens faithful had a 14-point lead to cheer.
Bath needed a foothold and at the midway point of the opening half it was Wilson who provided it, the prop barrelling over from Ford’s inside ball.
Myler and Ford then traded penalties but despite that boost the Bath scrum was still struggling and when Paul James was again pinged for collapsing Myler slotted over the penalty to make it 17-7.
Ford responded with a penalty of his own to reduce the deficit to one score before Myler then pushed another attempt at the posts to the right and the teams went in at the break with Northampton 17-10 in front.
The first score after the interval was always going to be the crucial one and it was the hosts who got it, Day going over in the left corner and Myler converting to make move 14 points clear.
And before the hour mark Saints had their bonus point, Pisi barging over in the left corner after the impressive Foden had sparked a counter attack from deep in his own half.
Woodburn got a score back for Bath on the hour mark and the visitors were hopeful of a late comeback when
Auterac barrelled over at the back of a maul.
And as the clock ticked down Bath thought they had the crucial score after another rolling maul but the grounding was not clear and the video referee could not award it and Saints survived.