Northampton Saints produced a superb second-half fightback at Franklin’s Gardens with three second-half tries seeing off London Irish.
Irish threatened to claim only their second Aviva Premiership Rugby win of the season when two opportunistic tries from winger Alex Lewington put them 14-3 up at half-time.
But the Saints stormed back early in the second period, scoring three times in the 10 minutes after half-time.
George North, Rob Horne and Mike Haywood all dotted down for the home side, and Piers Francis made the game safe with a drop goal.
Irish had got exactly the start they wanted as, after playing the first five minutes on the front foot, they were presented with an opportunity.
Northampton’s passing was poor and after the ball went loose, wing Lewington pounced, kicking ahead and diving to dot down.
Fly-half Tonks landed the conversion to take his team into an early 7-0 lead and they then defended strongly, stopping the Saints from issuing an immediate riposte.
Four from four at home this year!
Certainly not straightforward, but that three-try blitz in the 10 mins following half-time are enough to see Saints home for an important W
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) February 17, 2018
And Lewington made them pay by reaching the ball first after hesitancy from Wales star North and the Irish winger dived over to score his and his team’s second try.
Tonks made it 14-0 with the successful conversion before Francis narrowed the gap with a penalty.
However, the Saints were soon marching towards the Irish line in the second half, as North scored within a minute of the restart.
Francis converted to cut Irish’s lead to four points and Northampton soon ensured it would be they who led as Luther Burrell sent Horne over in the corner.
Francis missed the conversion, but the Saints held one-point advantage and that was soon eight points as Haywood powered over and Francis converted.
Tonks responded with a penalty for Irish, but Francis cancelled it out with an intelligent and timely drop goal eight minutes from time to seal it.