Shane Geraghty produced an inspired performance to lead Northampton to a bonus-point victory over bottom-of-the-table Leeds in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP.
Geraghty, who is likely to start at inside centre for England in the autumn internationals, was the star turn at Franklin’s Gardens in his usual position of fly-half, scoring one try and setting up two others for in-form centre Jon Clarke.
The 23-year-old also chipped in with seven points with the boot, through one penalty and two conversions, the second of which bettered a try by Chris Ashton that brought up the bonus point.
Leeds’ sole try, converted by Henry Paul, came from Ceiron Thomas in the 40th minute and the Welshman also added a penalty, scant consolation for a brave performance by the visitors. They stay rooted to the foot of the standings.
Leeds did not start like a team struggling at the bottom of the league. They dominated a ferociously contested breakdown area but Thomas could only kick one of the three penalties awarded to the visitors in the opening 15 minutes.
That successful attempt came in the second minute but the Saints, inspired by Geraghty, gradually got themselves into the game.
Geraghty, who missed an eighth-minute penalty, made amends 11 minutes later by breezing over down the right after receiving a pass from Lee Dickson, following sustained home pressure on Leeds’ line.
The number 10 hit the post with his conversion but bettered a try made by himself – with a deft grubber kick – and finished off by the rampaging Clarke after some soft hands by Chris Mayor, the recipient of Geraghty’s kick.
It was the first of three tries in a five-minute spell that blew Leeds away, with Northampton’s bonus point secured after just 32 minutes.
The third touchdown arrived after more good work by Geraghty, who under pressure lofted a left-footed kick to the left corner for Clarke to collect and ground for his fourth try this season.
And the fourth was a superb team try, with Ben Foden, Bruce Reihana, Chris Mayor and Ashton combining for the latter to canter under the sticks.
Thomas reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time when he arrived on the shoulder of Jonny Hepworth to go over for a scored converted by Paul, who had earlier taken over kicking duties from the Welshman.
The second half was less intense, Northampton perhaps dropping the pace with the bonus point secure and the win all but sealed.
But it was the Saints who added to their cushion with a Geraghty penalty in the 57th minute, putting his side 27-10 up.
Leeds continued to battle gamely but a five-minute spell encamped deep in the hosts’ territory around the hour mark yielded no points when a try was a must if they had any hopes of a miracle recovery.
Reihana booted a 50-yard penalty in the to add more salt in Leeds’ wounds and Geraghty received a rapturous round of applause when he was replaced by Barry Everitt with 12 minutes remaining.