Jim Mallinder feels the return of England stars Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood made a big difference to Saints on Saturday.
Lawes and Wood were playing their first club games of the new campaign, having represented their country in the World Cup.
And both played the full 80 minutes in the 42-16 demolition of Newcastle Falcons at stadium:mk.
Mallinder was delighted with their contribution to the cause.
And he said: “We’re really pleased to have Courtney and Tom back. It made a big difference because they’re quality players.
“Sometimes it’s not easy fitting straight back into the system, but in the second half we saw the team gelling and playing as we wanted to.
“Courtney’s not played many games recently but he looked fit out there and got better as the game went on.”
Christian Day, who scored twice in the Saints success, was also delighted to see Lawes and Wood back in the pack.
And the lock said: “It was good.
“I keep saying it, the squad depth this year is incredible really, across every position, and when the likes of Courtney Lawes comes back and Michael Paterson is sat on the bench, it shows you the strength we have already in the second row.
“It was good to have Courtney back and Tom Wood leads from the front, leads by example.”