MATCH SUMMARY – NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 45–26 BATH RUGBY
Bath Rugby scored a try bonus point but their display was not good enough against a Northampton Saints who strengthened their top four chances.
Tom de Glanville opened the scoring with a well-worked try from inside his own half, but tries from Robbie Smith and Juarno Augustus turned the result in Saints' favour.
Bath captain Tom Dunn crossed for the first of his tries on the night, however Fin Smith's penalty edged Northampton ahead at the break.
Angus Scott-Young and Robbie Smith scored early in the second half ahead of Dunn's second and Tom Doughty barged over for a bonus point but only after Tom Collins added a fifth for Saints.
James Grayson rounded off the scoring for the hosts.
Dunn was handed the captaincy for Bath's Round 20 fixture, which saw Gabriel Hamer-Webb make his return to rugby after being side-lined in November.
Completing the front row were Beno Obano and D'Arcy Rae, with experienced locks Dave Attwood and GJ van Velze in the second row.
Max Ojomoh and Jonathan Joseph were the centre pairing, and Tom de Glanville at full-back, seeing Matt Gallagher out in the wing.
Northampton marked numerous milestones with Collins getting his 100th Premiership appearance, captain Fraser Dingwall getting his 100th Saints cap, and Tommy Freeman marking his 50th.
Northampton Saints: 15 James Ramm, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Fraser Dingwall (c), 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Tom James; 1 Alex Waller, 2 Robbie Smith, 3 Paul Hill, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Alex Moon, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 7 Sam Graham, 8 Juarno Augustus
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Alfie Petch, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Sam Matavesi, 21 Callum Braley, 22 James Grayson, 23 Rory Hutchinson
Bath Rugby: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Matt Gallagher, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Beno Obano, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 D'Arcy Rae, 4 Dave Attwood, 5 GJ van Velze, 6 Josh Bayliss, 7 Chris Cloete, 8 Miles Reid
Impact players: 16 Tom Doughty, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Will Spencer, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Will Butt, 23 Richard de Carpentier
The opening eight minutes at very chilly Franklin’s Gardens saw Bath’s defence put to the test and a Josh Bayliss try-saver tackle prevented a home score.
The back row was involved at the other end soon after, sprinting up the wing in a move featuring Miles Reid which led to de Glanville, who had started the sequence by claiming a high ball, diving over to give Bath the lead.
To the chants from their home crowd, Saints marched home shortly afterwards to take the lead with two scores. One through Robbie Smith off the back of a weighty driving maul, and the other through a powerful charge from Number 8 Augustus.
Home prop Paul Hill was sent to the bin for infringing close to his own line and Bath capitalised on the extra body. Dunn broke away from the back of a maul and levelled the scores at 14 points a piece.
Saints were able to edge three points ahead just before the half was out through Fin Smith in a close 40 minutes.
The second half proved. Bath’s downfall. Scott-Young burrowed in for five points just after the break and when Bayliss was yellow carded, Robbie Smith scored once again for Saints’ try bonus point.
Bath did continue to rally despite the pressure they were under and Dunn was the beneficiary of another strong away maul, however any signs of the visitors coming back were thwarted as Saints finished off a counter attack with Collins dotting down.
Replacement hooker Doughty finished for a Bath bonus point with five minutes remaining and with the game all but put to bed, Saints dealt one last blow.
The hosts continued their expansive style of play in the closing minutes to send Grayson over the whitewash to end the game 45-26.