Saints score six as they slay Dragons

Juan Pablo Estelles opened the scoring for Saints (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Juan Pablo Estelles opened the scoring for Saints (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Saints kick-started their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign as they ran in six tries in a 41-7 victory against the Dragons at Franklin's Gardens.

Juan Pablo Estelles, Reece Marshall, Ken Pisi, Cobus Reinach, Tom Wood and Alex Mitchell all dotted down as Jim Mallinder's men ended a five-match losing streak.

The Dragons did have plenty of possession during the first half, but did little with it, as only a second-half score from Joe Thomas gave them any sort of consolation.

For Saints it was a welcome boost ahead of the return to Aviva Premiership action, at Worcester Warriors next Saturday.

And it gives them lift-off in their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign, which had started with a seven-try defeat at Exeter Chiefs on the previous weekend.

Saints were desperate to make amends and get some momentum by beating the Dragons, and the home defence stood tall in the early stages.

The away side's lineout was failing to function early on, giving Saints chances to launch attacks.

And Argentinian wing Estelles finally made it count as he finished off a flowing move by spinning over the line.

Stephen Myler missed the tricky conversion out wide and the Dragons responded well, applying more pressure to the Saints rearguard.

However, the Welshmen were unable to put together moves with enough fluency and precision to get through the home defence.

Saints threatened on the counter-attack, with scrum-half Reinach showcasing his awareness and speed to make a break that ended with a knock-on at the last.

It was just failing to stick for Saints, with plenty of ambitious passes either being spilled or players finding themselves pushed into touch at the crucial moment.

But they did manage to grab their second score before the break as Tom Stephenson carried them within range and hooker Marshall outmuscled the Dragons defence to score.

Myler added the extras to Marshall's first Saints try and the home side held a 12-0 lead at the interval.

The players looked to have been told to up the intensity early in the second period and they won an early penalty, which Myler kicked.

And it wasn't long before a third try came as Pisi intercepted a pass and showed plenty of pace as he sped from halfway and dived over the line.

Myler converted and Saints were now seeking a bonus point, with 30 minutes remaining.

But it was to be the Dragons who scored next as outside centre Thomas latched onto a tidy grubber to dot down.

Arwel Robson converted, but Saints were soon grabbing their bonus-point score as Pisi broke and passed to Michael Paterson, who handed the ball to Reinach for the try.

Myler converted to make it 29-7 and the Dragons were now up against it as Saints took the chance to introduce young guns James Grayson and Mitchell.

But it was one of the team's more experienced members who scored next as Wood picked up an offload from Harry Mallinder and grabbed the try.

Grayson missed the conversion, but it mattered not, with Saints cruising towards a welcome win.

Tom Stephenson impressed

Tom Stephenson impressed

Dragons were reduced to 14 men with five minutes to go as full-back Joe Goodchild was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, which prevented a Saints try.

But Mallinder's men would have their sixth score before the end as Ben Nutley made some hard yards and Mitchell found just enough space to register his first Saints try.

Grayson converted to put the icing on the cake of a comfortable victory.

Saints: Mallinder (Foden 61); Estelles, Hutchinson, Stephenson, Pisi; Myler (Grayson 57), Reinach (Mitchell 58); Van Wyk (Beesley 61), Marshall (Haywood 62), Ford-Robinson (Hill 58); Paterson (Moon 61), Dickinson (c); Wood (Harrison 68), Nutley, Eadie.

Dragons: Goodchild; Rosser, Thomas, Howard, Hewitt (c) (Warren 62); Robson (O'Brien 61), C Davies (Leonard 61); Garrett (T Davies 68), Belcher (Ellis 70), Fairbrother; Screech (Andrews 70 (Harris 74)), Landman; Wainwright, Roach, Worthington (Greggains 64).

Referee: Mike English (Wales)

Attendance: 9,347

Stephen Myler was typically accurate from the tee

Stephen Myler was typically accurate from the tee

Reece Marshall picked up his first Saints try

Reece Marshall picked up his first Saints try