Cavaliers moved back into contention for a place in the Premiership Rugby Shield semi-finals with an outstanding bonus point victory at Sixways on Monday.
A 78th minute try from replacement centre Luke Veebel, guesting from Stourbridge, decided a richly-entertaining contest and enabled Cavaliers to move into joint second place in the Northern Conference with Northampton.
Cavaliers have two matches left in the regular season, at home to Wasps A next Monday and away to leaders Newcastle Falcons on Easter Monday.
Although Cavaliers had six guest players on their bench, all of them acquitted themselves well with Veebel, Yorkshire Carnegie wing Louis Brown and Oxford University flanker Sam Miller all making significant contributions against a strong Northampton side.
Warriors Under-18 blindside flanker Morgan Monks also impressed on his Cavaliers debut and fly-half Gareth Simpson, who has been on trial since Christmas, produced a composed performance at fly-half.
Cavaliers made the perfect start and scored with a sustained attack from the kick-off which saw Mason Tonks cross for the opening try.
Cavaliers ran the ball from their own 22, patiently retained possession through multiple phases and created the overlap for Tonks to cross on the overlap.
Scott van Breda added the extras but Northampton were soon back on level terms with a well-crafted try on their own from right wing Matt Worley which captain James Grayson improved.
Van Breda’s powerful running from deep was a feature of Cavaliers’ first half performance and the full-back went over for their second try after lock James Scott had been held up just short of the line.
Van Breda goaled his try but Northampton responded with a close range try of their own, scored by lock James Craig, and converted by Grayson to draw level again.
Cavaliers were then reduced to 13 men for an eight minute period when first Andrew Kitchener then Farai Mudariki received yellow cards.
Centre Wynand Olivier went into the back row and Tonks was temporarily replaced by tighthead prop Joe Morris as Cavaliers tried to shore up the scrum. They managed to stop Northampton marching them backwards but they could not prevent left wing Ken Pisi scoring on the overlap.
Grayson was unable to convert from touch and Cavaliers managed to deny Northampton another core while Kitchener and Mudariki were off the pitch.
When they were back to a full complement, Cavaliers put Northampton under pressure and van Breda reduced the deficit to two points with a penalty in first half injury-time.
Cavaliers regained the lead three minutes into the second half when Olivier, a World Cup winner with South Africa in 2007, powering over.
Brown made an instant impression when he replaced Tonks early in the second half and showed a nice turn of speed to cross for Cavaliers; bonus point try after 55 minutes.
Northampton got a try bonus themselves when replacement hooker Darren Dawidiuk burrowed over seven minutes from time and Grayson added the extras.
But Grayson was sin-binned from the restart and Cavaliers made their numerical advantage count when wing Alex Hearle scythed through the defence and the ball was shipped left for Veebel to power over.
Cavaliers | 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Alex Hearle, 13 Wynand Olivier (Veebel 56), 12 Will Butler (C), 11 Mason Tonks (Morris 29-39, Brown 52), 10 Gareth Simpson (Jackson 79), 9 Jonny Arr, 1 Jack Cosgrove (Owen 52), 2 Isaac Miller, 3 Farai Mudariki (Morris 61), 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 James Scott, 6 Morgan Monks (Ward 69), 7 Matti Williams (Miller 41), 8 Tom Dodd.
Replacements | Harry Newborn, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Joe Morris, 19 Zac Ward, 20 Sam Miller, 21 Louis Jackson, 22 Luke Veebel, 23 Louis Brown.
3m | Tonks try 5-0
4m | van Breda con 7-0
8m | Worley try 7-5
9m | Grayson con 7-7
11m | van Breda try 12-7
12m | van Breda con 14-7
16m | Craig try 14-12
17m | Grayson con 14-14
31m | Pisi try 14-19
40m | van Breda pen 17-19
43m | Olivier try 22-19
44m | van Breda con 24-19
55m | Brown try 29-19
73m | Dawidiuk try 29-24
74m | Grayson con 29-26
78m | Veebel try 34-26