Saints hold their nerve as they secure nail-biting win against Bath

Tom Pearson scored for Saints during the first half (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Tom Pearson scored for Saints during the first half (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

After edging past Newcastle Falcons 16-14 six days earlier, the black, green and gold kept heart rates high once again as Bath threatened to grab a dramatic late win.

But Sam Graham got over the ball to win a penalty close to his own line to ensure Phil Dowson's men made it crucial back-to-back victories in the Gallagher Premiership.

Saints had moved into a nine-point lead in the second period as George Hendy added to first-half tries from Tom Pearson and Alex Coles.

But Bath sent on key men such as Alfie Barbeary and Ben Spencer as they took control of the game, getting nerves jangling the Gardens.

However, Saints, as they had in the closing stages at Kingston Park, kept their composure and Graham, a second-half replacement for Lewis Ludlam, ensured it was job done.

Buoyed by the Newcastle win, Saints had started well against a Bath side who had won at Saracens in their previous Premiership away game.

Saints had an early chance to go in front as Fin Smith lined up a shot at goal close to halfway, and the fly-half slotted it superbly.

But Bath levelled things up quickly, winning a breakdown penalty after isolating Tommy Freeman, allowing Orlando Bailey, starting at fly-half in place of the rested Finn Russell, to notch the three points.

Bailey had another chance from the tee on 14 minutes, but he took too long lining his effort up and referee Adam Leal awarded a scrum to Saints.

Saints soon took advantage, with Tom James providing a fantastic flat pass for Pearson, who ran a great line before flying over the line.

Smith converted to make it 10-3 with 18 minutes played, but Saints were unable to build on their lead.

And after Bath set up a patient period of play in the home half, Cameron Redpath made a break that resulted in prop Thomas du Toit charging over for the score.

Bailey converted with ease to level things up and Bath then stood tall to ensure Northampton's attacking game inside the 22 didn't function.

Saints were soon back on the front foot, but the away side held firm, forcing a mistake in the 22 to ensure parity remained.

But Bath remained under pressure and James did superbly to open the door again, delivering some dazzling footwork before offloading for Coles, who gratefully dived over.

Smith converted but the breathing space was gone just before the break as Bath worked the ball well down the left, creating space for Tom de Glanville to fly in for the score.

Bailey missed the conversion to leave the home lead intact at half-time.

James again had an influence at the start of the second half as his kick caused problems for de Glanville, who could only palm it into touch.

It allowed Saints to set up a clever lineout move that resulted in hooker Curtis Langdon finding Hendy with an inside pass, and the wing cruised in for the try.

Smith converted to make it 24-15 before Saints did some huge work at the scrum, winning a penalty from a Bath put-in five metres from the home line.

Saints were doing well at the set piece, but after Ethan Waller found himself isolated in the middle of the pitch, Bath won a penalty, which Spencer slotted.

The black, green and gold were becoming increasingly submerged and after two players collided trying to take a high ball, Bath were off and running, with only a Max Ojomoh knock-on preventing an away try.

It was all Bath, and there tension was palpable as the men in yellow and blue mounted one final attack.

But Saints resisted well before Graham got over the ball and earned a penalty that sparked jubilation in the stands.

Saints: Furbank (c); Freeman, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Hendy; F Smith (Seabrook 73), James; A Waller (E Waller 53 (A Waller 73)), Langdon (Cruse 70), Millar Mills (Hill 53); Moon, Coles; Scott-Young, Pearson (Munga 76), Ludlam (Graham 66).

Bath: de Glanville; McConnochie, Ojomoh (Hennessey 77), Redpath, Muir (Harris 70); Bailey, Schreuder (Spencer 53); Obano (Schoeman 59), Annett (Dunn 53), du Toit (Stuart 59); McNally (Ewels 53), Lee-Warner; Reid (c), Underhill, Coetzee (Barbeary 55).

Referee: Adam Leal