Michael Aylwin at Franklin's Gardens

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Sep 30

George North on the charge as Northampton go top of the table

• Northampton 30-22 Harlequins
• England prop Kyle Sinckler at the centre of gouging allegation

The transformation, if never complete, is now very definitely underway. Northampton may have conceded seven tries and 40 points in the first 40 minutes of this campaign, but they now, somehow, sit at the top of the table, separated from Newcastle by four points worth of differential. It’s a wonderful advert for the purging benefits of a good hiding.

That achievement, though, may yet be overshadowed by an allegation of gouging against Kyle Sinckler, Quins’ England and Lions prop. The incident occurred 10 minutes into the second half, when an enraged Michael Paterson claimed he had been gouged. The referee put it up on the big screen, where Sinckler could be seen ripping Paterson’s scrum cap off, then briefly returning his hand to the environs of Paterson’s face. The footage was inconclusive, but Sinckler was penalised for the original decapping. When he went to shake Paterson’s hand, the latter refused. That is unlikely, though, to be the end of the matter.

Related: Leicester overcome elements to knock Exeter off top of the table

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/30/northampton-harlequins-premiership-match-report

Sep 15

Northampton get their big guns firing to overpower lacklustre Bath

• Northampton 24-6 Bath
• Courtney Lawes, Dave Ribbans and George North on scoresheet

Two wins from three – and here a bonus point, to boot. What, Northampton must be thinking, is all the fuss about?

The jury waits. Such a summary glosses over the indignity of the one defeat – the humiliation, really – but consecutive wins over the two biggest names in English rugby is enough to be getting on with, should it be felt that rebuilding were required. “You remember what people say,” said Jim Mallinder, Northampton’s director of rugby. “You read things, and it hurts. We needed a reaction last week and got it. This week we’ve shown we’re a difficult team to beat.”

Related: Billy Twelvetrees: ‘Welford Road can be intimidating – but it’s also why you play’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/15/northampton-bath-premiership-rugby-match-report

Sep 09

Tom Collins shows his promise as Northampton hit back against Leicester

• Northampton 24-11 Leicester
• Luther Burrell and Dylan Hartley join Collins on the scoresheet

We should not really be surprised, but anyone who knew only the Northampton that were torn limb from limb at Twickenham the weekend before would have been. The Saints are now quite used to bouncing back from harrowing experiences such as that, and this they duly did in front of their faithful, against their bitterest. The full catharsis of a bonus-point fourth try eluded them but this was a comprehensive dismantling of Leicester, their first win over the Tigers in eight attempts.

“We had to respond like that,” said Jim Mallinder, Northampton’s director of rugby. “There’s no other way. It’s a reminder for the rest of the season. In this game you’ve got to get that intensity right. Last week we didn’t really do it. This week you could tell from the first minute that we were up for it.”

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/09/northampton-leicester-premiership-match-report