Pisi’s pacy tricks too sharp for Dragons
KEN PISI set alight Northampton last night to help his team end a miserable run of five defeats.
Two memorable moments from the speedy Samoan settled this Anglo Welsh tie in favour of the Saints by six tries to one.
Northampton led 12-0 at the break and found their stride in the second half.
Pisi burst clear from his own half to score Northampton’s first try in the second half after he grabbed a pass off Dragons fly half Arwel Robson.
His run saw him sprint some 60 metres to beat the Dragons cover. His next trick was a cheeky jink which opened the way for a try by scrum-half Cobus Reinach.
Two minutes later Tom Wood scored Northampton’s third try in an 11-minute burst starting when Pisi shot clear in the 49th. The pace and precision of Saints was too much for a young Dragons team trying also to re-build confidence after a trouncing by Munster last week.
Phil Dowson, Northampton’s assistant coach, singled Reinach as his team’s star man and for the way he is settling into life at the Gardens.
And another player to impress the former Saints captain in his new role was hooker Reece Marshall who scored one of two firsthalf tries.
Dowson said: “We anticipated that it would be close at half-time and that we needed to be patient. In the end we won well.”
Hendre Marnitz, Dragons’ defence coach, felt the scoreline did not reflect the effort of the Dragons.
“We are a young team and we have to learn that we cannot switch off and have soft moments against such strong teams.”
Northampton did not dominate a first half which featured 17 line-outs. It was stop-start stuff, especially in the first 20 minutes.
Dragons proved stern opponents and defended robustly to enjoy good possession themselves.
However, it was Northampton who struck first, pressure bringing a try out wide for wing Juan Pablo Estelles in the 16th minute.
He accepted Harry Mallinder’s pass after the Saints had built steadily from a wayward visiting line-out.
Dragons’ best chance of a first-half try came when scrum-half Charlie Davies was stopped just short.
And it needed a knock down from Mallinder to stop another promising attack on the right flank.
Northampton did finish the half in charge and another wave of pressure earned a second try.
This time hooker Marshall was driven over after a number of attempts. Stephen Myler converted for a Northampton lead of 12-0 at half-time.
The second half was far more one-sided. After Myler had added a penalty three minutes into the half, the home speedsters took over.
Pisi was the inspirational figure, dashing 60 metres for his team’s third try which Myler converted.
Though centre Joe Thomas swiftly ran onto a good grubber by scrumhalf Davies for the Dragon’s only try, Northampton went from first gear to top very quickly.
Reinach and Wood finished off slick moves and the sixth try of the night came from replacement scrum-half Alex Mitchell, his first for the club.
He’s in: Juan Pablo Estelles scores Saints first try despite the efforts of Joe Goodchild
Outstanding: Cobus Reinach on the attack for Saints