The view of Franklin’s Gardens from my mum’s dinner table in Norfolk at 3pm yesterday was not great.
I had warned her there would be a distraction during our visit. The fact that we were sitting down to eat just as the game was kicking off was nobody’s fault, it was more a product of the haphazard informality of a trip to my mum’s.
“Shall we go to my mum’s on Jubilee weekend? Yeah why not. Shall we eat now? Yeah, why not…”
So there we were, three generations of Scoleses, coalescing around a cottage pie and/or a lasagne (my mum couldn’t decide which to cook so produced both, homemade) as Northampton set out to confirm their place in the fantastic four that would be competing for the Premiership title in the next fortnight.
My mum doesn’t even have BT Sport but I have an app on my phone. I toyed with the idea of resisting the temptation but I realised, as I pondered how choosing between lasagne and cottage pie was a bit like choosing between picking Ludlam or Augustus at 8, that this wouldn’t be possible.
The answer was clear. Start with the cottage pie and then bring on the the lasagne for a strong finish, and maybe just have a peek at the phone screen now and then.
So around 3.04pmish with just a succulent dollop of mince, mash and carrots on my plate Matavesi broke through like an unexpected cherry tomato in the Cottage Pie mix.
“Matavesi’s broken through!” I announced to everyone at the table as I stared down into my lap.
“What?” my mum’s grip tightened on her serving spatula and she side-eyed the doors as she went into home defence mode.
“He’s scored!” I reassured her and apologetically brought my phone out into full view.
At this point I decided to explain Saints’ season to my mum, and then recent seasons, the whole Chris Boyd era, Saints’ longer history and the way the TV pundits never really take us seriously and the fact that Northampton doesn’t have city status and is constantly overlooked despite being a town that could eat a lot of these goddamned so called cities whole…
Soon enough there was cottage pie and lasagne on the same plate just like I always knew there would be and Saints were attacking the space like they were at a space cowboy rodeo.
The score as the Neapolitan Cheesecake and Tiramisu came out was 36-7 to Saints.
“That’s a lot of points,” my dad said, who seemed to be teetering on the brink of not knowing what all the fuss was about.
The team that could have really taken it all away from us, Gloucester (who have had an immense season) were 27-0 up at London’s filthy rich Saracens (who didn’t field their stars). It was perfectly possible that this could still go wrong. If Newcastle had won the second half, and they did claw back 19 points, that would have been it.
We call the alchohol, caffeine and sugar hit that is Tiramisu ‘fighting cake’ in our house and I chose not to opt for that. I instead went for the fusion of taste influences that was the Neapolitan Cheesecake garnished with a summery hat trick of strawberry, ice cream and thick double cream.
Northampton Saints match report
This was very much the way the game went as Newcastle had a man red-carded for head on head dangerous play while Saints unleashed their backs into the space created by his absence.
Tommy Freeman provided the summery hat trick while while the Newcastle fighting cake managed a creditable four tries. However Saints had scored ten so shove that up your pre-season predictions rugby pundits.
This win earns Saints a semi-final at Welford Road against our derby rivals Leicester, unbeaten at home this season. They beat us there and I can still see Steve Borthwick glowering over the Gardens at the final whistle after Tigers put 55 points on us in answer to our 26 at home.
No-one will deny we badly owe them a proper demonstration of what this team is really capable of.
Pictures by Dave Ikin