As Premiership debuts go, Rory Hutchinson’s entered the realms of fantasy.
Come in at late notice, play alongside world stars, score a try and secure a dramatic win. It was like a rugby version of Roy of the Rovers.
The 20-year-old was called into the starting side after Stephen Myler was forced to pull out with a shoulder problem.
Myler had taken part in the team run the day before, but could not play any part, meaning Hutchinson was given an hour’s notice that he would be lining up at 12.
Harry Mallinder moved to 10 and, in an amazing turn of events, Hutchinson scored a first-half try and Mallinder landed the penalty which earned a 20-19 win two minutes from time,
It was an incredible evening at Franklin’s Gardens, where Saints won for the first time this season to banish memories of defeats to Bath and Wasps.
And for Cambridge-born Hutchinson, things really couldn’t have gone any better.
“It was an amazing day for me,” said the centre, who represented Scotland Under-20s in the Junior World Championship during the summer.
“I’m really happy with how it worked out.
“It was really good and really important that we got the win after a few losses.
“We came out and it was really good.”
And how about that try?
Hutchinson could easily find himself picking up the prize for score of the season, not only at Saints’ end-of-season dinner but the Premiership awards do, too.
It was a special effort, largely created by George North, who collected a kick-off inside his own 22, beat two men and gave the ball to Nic Groom, who passed it to the onrushing Hutchinson to score.
“I think I got quite lucky with the try and I thought at one point I’d missed the opportunity,”Hutchinson said. “But George did excellently and Groomy luckily gave me the pass. They did all the hard work.
“I’ve trained with George North a lot, learned a lot off him and to be out there with him was really good.”
Hutchinson was part of a youthful backline, ending the game alongside the likes of Mallinder and Sam Olver.
It was reminiscent of a Monday night playing for the Wanderers at the Gardens, apart from the fact that there were around 13,000 more fans than you would see at a second-team game.
“It was good and it reminded me of when we were back in the Academy,” said Hutchinson, who was making only his second appearance for the first-team, following a brief cameo as a replacement in an LV= Cup game at Leicester in January 2015.
“It was good to have them out there and to be alongside some of my really good mates was really good fun.
“There’s been a lot of boys who have sat on the bench but you still learn a lot from watching, being so close and part of the team during the week.
“Luckily for me, I got my opportunity.
“When we youngsters get opportunity we do like to take it and hopefully more can.
“For me it’s about taking every week as it comes. Whatever is in front of me, I look to take it head on.”
Hutchinson certainly did that last Friday, and he will now hope to get the chance to confront Harlequins at The Stoop this weekend.
“After a win like last Friday, it shows we’ve got it,” said Hutchinson, who joined Saints from National League 2 South club Shelford RFC.
“We’d come up short in our two games before but we can definitely go to Harlequins and show them what we’ve got.”