Northampton Saints 24 Worcester Warriors 14: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Mike Haywood and Teimana Harrison were hugely influential for Saints (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Mike Haywood and Teimana Harrison were hugely influential for Saints (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

After two weeks of playing pretty and losing painfully, Saints were back at the grind on Saturday.

They were forced to sacrifice style for old-fashioned steel as they sunk Worcester Warriors for the second time this season.

The Warriors had threatened to add to the misery of Jim Mallinder's men when they posed more questions of the Saints defence with a seemingly simple sixth-minute score.

But the home side eventually got a grip of the game to replenish the dignity that had been damaged in the formative stages of this game and the second half of the one at Newcastle Falcons on the previous Sunday.

Once again, Saints were thankful for crucial try-scoring contributions from Teimana Harrison and Mike Haywood.

Those men were the club's only representatives in last season's Aviva Premiership team of the year.

Mike Haywood scored twice

Mike Haywood scored twice

Both played huge parts in ensuring Champions Cup rugby came to Franklin's Gardens this season as they helped Saints to finish fifth in the previous campaign.

And they have been at it again this time round, with both currently enjoying a fine run of form.

While Saints have been largely inconsistent this year, Harrison, who was double player of the year in 2015/15, Haywood and Jamie Gibson have again been relentless in their displays.

And how grateful their club's supporters will be for the presence of men who England apparently don't need, but who their club simply could not do without.

Harry Mallinder did his best to create something for Saints

Harry Mallinder did his best to create something for Saints

Speaking of the Saints supporters, they were forced to endure rather than enjoy for long periods of the Worcester clash.

There was plenty of perspiration, but little inspiration, especially during a stodgy second half.

And the display did not bring the cheer many had craved after disappointments at Bath and Newcastle during the previous two weeks.

But Saints got the job done.

Saints secured their fifth successive home win

Saints secured their fifth successive home win

And how vital this win was.

With a trip to unhappy hunting ground Sale coming next Friday and then four fixtures against play-off chasing sides, Saints needed every point they could get.

Had they been more accurate, they could have had the maximum haul they desired.

But it wasn't to be and they must now continue to produce performances of substance.

However, some of the style they showed at Bath and Newcastle will also be needed.

Complete performances have largely eluded this interchangeable Saints side this season, but they must change that in the weeks to come.

And to do that, they will need more of the heart that the likes of Harrison and Haywood once again showed on Saturday.

How they rated...


A lively display from the Samoan full-back who gained plenty of ground and kept the Warriors on their toes... 7


Combined well with Tuala on a couple of occasions and offloaded well in the build-up to Haywood's first try, but did drop the ball on a couple of occasions... 6


His dancing feet are always a danger to opposition sides, but he wasn't able to create too much on this occasion... 6


Kicked well from hand, pinning the Warriors back and he was always trying to create something for Saints... 7


Has appeared to enjoy his wing berth in recent weeks and he did little wrong, but Worcester shut the wide channels down fairly well... 6


When was the last time this man missed a kick? Another flawless display from the tee from the No.10... 7


Got lured into a kicking battle by Worcester and wasn't able to get the quick ball he wanted at times... 6


Thought he was going to score when Pisi offloaded to him, but Haywood eventually took the glory. Decent shift though... 7


Saints' top scorer this season, the hooker has a handy habit of grabbing key tries and he was once again hugely influential here... 7


Battled on despite having food poisoning and he overcame the concession of an early penalty in the scrum to perform well enough... 7


Showed off his kicking skills with one tidy clearance and got through a huge amount of work... 7


Marshals this side so well and was influential again here, making Saints fans grateful that he has signed on at the club for another year... 7


Always performs well and the was no different as he worked so hard to help Saints get the win... 7


Like his fellow back row forwards, this man scrapped for everything, frantically trying to keep his team on the front foot... 7


Always seems to excel when he plays at eight and his dynamism was crucial to this success... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)


This man has looked good for Saints of late and he made his presence felt again here... 6

JAMES WILSON (for Tuitavake 58)

Not an easy game to come into as it was really petering out, but good to see him get a go at outside centre, where he always looks effective... 6

PAUL HILL (for Brookes 59)

Will be desperate to get some more game time, but he always adds fresh energy from the bench... 6