David Ribbans enjoyed a big confidence boost as he bagged three tries in Saints' 52-17 friendly win at Bedford Blues on Friday night.
South African lock Ribbans, who arrived at Northampton in January, was the hat-trick hero at Goldington Road.
Flanker Lewis Ludlam also impressed as he dotted down twice, with James Fish, Juan Pablo Estelles and James Grayson also on the scoresheet against the Championship side.
Saints were able to welcome back JJ Hanrahan, Tom Stephenson and Luther Burrell from injury as they cruised to victory.
And RIbbans said: "It’s always different when you play on the field to training.
"You get a real feel for the game so it’s good for everyone to come on, including myself, to get a bit of game time and confidence.
"Hopefully we can take that into training next week and onto the Leicester game next Saturday as well.”
On his three-try showing, Ribbans said: “I was lucky with two off the back of a maul.
“But it was a great team performance and I was just glad I could contribute to the team.
“There was a lot of running rugby which is good, we’d done a lot of that during the week so we just wanted to throw the ball around.
"It was tough conditions in the wet but the guys had good hands and it turned out to be a great game of rugby.”
The Bedford team included Howard Packman, who started at full-back, and lock Jordan Onojaife.
But though the Blues battled well, going in at half-time just nine points down at 19-10, Saints secured the win.
And Ribbans said: “I think we just needed a bit of composure.
"We spoke at half-time about how they were going to come for us in those first 10 minutes and we needed to stay tight and fight it and then just go back to basics after that.
“That last five minutes kind of summed up what we wanted to do. The defence there, not letting them in, that’s where our strengths are.
"We’ve got a good defence, a good set piece and from there we can throw the ball around.”
Having only moved to Saints from Western Province a few months ago, Ribbans enjoyed his first experience of a Championship ground.
“It was a good place to come and play with a great crowd," said the 21-year-old, who has made two competitive appearances for Saints so far.
"It was great to put in a good performance and get a great win.
“Of course I have played at grounds like this back in South Africa, where the fans are right on top of you, and we had a good bunch of people here.
"It was a cracking crowd which was nice.”