Stephen Myler’s first game back at Franklin’s Gardens after joining London Irish ended as Saints first home defeat of the season after a rip roaring contest.
There was thunderous physicality from the hosts: Naiyaravoro skittling tacklers, the Franks brothers pounding the Irish attack and Harrison dragging tacklers behind him as he burst through the gain line.
Api Ratuniyarawa was shown red for accidental contact with an opponents face at the breakdown while Exiles’s nine Meehan only received yellow for upending Reinach after play had stopped. The decisions may have suited the laws of the game but the disparity in severity of punishment seemed to offend natural justice and outraged the home fans.
The final agony was seeing Henry Taylor’s box kick charged down in the last minutes for a decisive try by Dave Porecki. It was pretty cruel luck but Saints remain at the right end of the table and with many players away on international duty the injuries to Francis and Sleighthome may prove to be a greater concern than the points not earned.
It was also interesting to note how much raw power Chris Boyd can now put on the field should he choose to do so. When that clicks sweetly with Saints’ exciting attacking game Northampton will be a very tough team to stop.
Dave Ikin’s pictures are in the following slideshow.