Northampton were much too strong for the Dragons, winning 28-3 at Franklin’s Gardens in their LV= Cup tie.
The visitors' scrum was a hapless affair and they lost three front-row players to the sin-bin during the course of the game, resulting in uncontested scrums. Northampton, last season's winners of the competition, had the better of the opening exchanges and took the lead after five minutes when Stephen Myler kicked a 25-metre goal.
After 15 minutes, full-back Pat Leach knocked on a high kick and at the resulting scrum the Dragons collapsed and were penalised for Myler to kick a simple goal. The Saints totally dominated the opening quarter but stout defence from the Dragons somehow kept their line intact, although centre Jon Clarke did drop a perfectly good pass with the line at his mercy.
The Dragons' scrum was rapidly becoming an embarrassment, conceding penalties at almost every opportunity. Eventually the patience of referee Sean Davey became exhausted and he sent Dragons' prop Dan Way to the sin-bin after 32 minutes.
Not surprisingly Northampton chose another scrum instead of kicking the penalty and it paid dividends with the first try of the game. Again the visitors went backwards and Ryan Powell had little problem in sending Paul Diggin over in the corner for the try which Myler failed to convert.
On a very rare excursion into the Saints' 22, the Dragons earnt a penalty which Matthew Jones kicked to reduce the arrears. Then came the highlight of a very disappointing first half, when Shane Geraghty burst onto a pass in his own half to split the Dragons' defence, but the full-back stumbled and fell with the line beckoning.
The Dragons suffered a further blow when captain Steve Jones left the field with an injury moments before the interval, with his side 11-3 behind. The visitors brought on first-choice half-backs Jason Tovey and Wayne Evans for the second half, but within two minutes of the restart Myler had extended the Saints' lead with another penalty.
Tovey missed a penalty for the Dragons before they lost replacement hooker Lloyd Burns to the sin-bin, leading to the introduction of uncontested scrums. It made no difference to the Saints as Calum Clark immediately drove over for a try which Myler converted before the outside-half dummied over for another which he again converted to make it 28-3.
Nigel Hall came on as a replacement prop for the Dragons and at his first scrum was yellow carded for twice collapsing the scrum. However, despite all their pressure, the Saints could not score a fourth try and with it a valuable bonus point.