Northampton Saints 16 Montpellier 14: Tom Vickers’ review and player ratings

Louis Picamoles was superb for Saints once again (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Louis Picamoles was superb for Saints once again (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Cometh the hour, cometh ‘The Iceman’.

If you’re thinking you’ve read that before, you’d probably be right.

Because how often has Stephen Myler proved to be the man of the moment for Saints?

During his 10 years at the club, the fly-half has landed several match-winning kicks.

His composure under the most intense pressure is astounding, earning him the ‘Iceman’ nickname from his team-mates.

During Saints’ double-winning season (2013/14) alone, Myler kicked two match-winning penalties, in the final minute of games at Wasps and Exeter.

Harry Mallinder helped to set up Calum Clark's try

Harry Mallinder helped to set up Calum Clark's try

And he also slotted a last-gasp conversion to secure a 19-19 draw at Bath during the same campaign.

In situations when most would crumble, Myler proved to be a picture of calm as he propelled his team to glory in two competitions.

And on Saturday evening, he landed another huge effort that eased the tension around Franklin’s Gardens.

In fact, you could go as far as to say that Myler rescued Saints’ Champions Cup hopes, such is the value of a home win in the cut-throat competition.

Teimana Harrison came on for Saints during the second half

Teimana Harrison came on for Saints during the second half

But, of course, it wasn’t all about him.

The whole Saints team had to step up against a monstrous Montpellier team.

Saints walked in the land of the giants and just about emerged unscathed.

In Louis Picamoles, they had their own behemoth.

George Pisi tried to take the fight to Montpellier

George Pisi tried to take the fight to Montpellier

A man who appears to be in a bubble during the maelstrom that is a rugby match.

Opposition players, some smaller, some bigger, try to topple him, but his balance and ability to offload under pressure is sensational.

He is quite simply an outrageous rugby player and one who, injury permitting, will surely go on to be one of the greatest to have represented Northampton Saints.

Picamoles’ power and refusal to buckle under strain is exactly what Saints need right now.

It has been a tough start to the season, which has seen attack coach Alex King pay the price for a tally of two wins from six Aviva Premiership matches.

And it would only have got tougher had Montpellier managed to win at the Gardens.

George North made plenty of carries

George North made plenty of carries

But thankfully for everyone of a green, black and gold persuasion, Picamoles, Myler and Co stepped up.

Now Jim Mallinder’s men can head to France this weekend with four points to their name.

It won’t be easy to win at Castres - Saints know that all too well from recent clashes with the side from Stade Pierre Antoine - but at least defeat won’t be fatal.

At least Saints have some confidence to take across the Channel and at least that pressure hasn’t ramped up any more.

Saints will have to ensure that they have ice running through their veins if they want to win at Castres.

But in the likes of Myler and Picamoles they certainly have men who fit that particular bill.

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

The full-back looked really sharp, making more metres than any other player on the pitch and making the second most carries, one behind Picamoles... 8

KEN PISI

Had a huge test as he faced up to the ridiculously big Nemani Nadolo, but he largely did well... 6

GEORGE PISI

Looked strong defensively and tried to take the fight to Montpellier when he got the chance, eventually being forced off with a knock... 7

HARRY MALLINDER

Produced a lovely offload in the build-up to Calum Clark’s score and his big boot was a useful tool... 8

GEORGE NORTH

Was busy, especially during the first, half and he made plenty of carries and metres to keep Montpellier on their toes... 7

STEPHEN MYLER

So assured from the tee and came up with the big kick when it mattered most, earning the points for his side... 8

NIC GROOM

Saints brought him off with 20 minutes to go to keep things fresh, but the South African had done okay until then, with his kicking good... 7

ALEX WALLER

Faced a big challenge against a Georgian front row, but Saints more than matched them in the scrum... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD

Might not be as big as some of the beasts in the Montpellier pack, but was typically brave, doing everything he could to stop them in their tracks... 7

KIERAN BROOKES

The prop is a man who can match the power of the Montpellier pack and he put himself about here... 7

SAM DICKINSON

Saints were robbed of Courtney Lawes due to a knee injury, but this man stepped up, putting in a big display and a big tackle to stop Benjamin Fall scoring in the first half... 8

MICHAEL PATERSON

A huge shift from the lock, who got through a lot of work, making tackle after tackle in a fine defensive display... 8

TOM WOOD

The captain led from the front, with one courageous chargedown summing up his desire to drive Saints to victory... 8

CALUM CLARK

Scored Saints’ only try in a huge personal performance that saw him win the second most lineouts in the home side and make the most tackles by some distance... 9

LOUIS PICAMOLES - CHRON STAR MAN

A gargantuan display from the big Frenchman who continues to astound at Saints this season... 9

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

LEE DICKSON (for Groom 58)

Saints were starting to get on the front foot as this man came on and he did little wrong during the final 20 minutes... 6

Stephen Myler was the Saints hero

Stephen Myler was the Saints hero