Cavaliers made it four straight bonus point wins in the Premiership Rugby Shield Northern Conference in a match of two distinct halves at misty Sixways.
Cavaliers had the try bonus point wrapped up in a first half in which much of the action was obscured by fog. But they then had to withstand a second half fightback from an experienced Northampton side who drew level at 28-28 before Luke Scully settled things with two well-struck late penalties.
Cavaliers played their best rugby when the fog was at its worst with Jono Kitto, Joe Taufete’e, Beck Cutting and Nick David crossing for well-worked tries.
But it was the second half defensive shift that decided the contest as Cavaliers dug deep against a side that included props Owen and Ben Franks, who have 155 All Blacks caps between them.
Kai Owen more than held his own against Owen Franks – capped 108 times by New Zealand – and Cavaliers unpicked Northampton’s lineout at a critical stage late in the game.
Much of the play in the first quarter was obscured by dense fog but Cavaliers emerged from it to open the scoring with Scott van Breda making a break that was supported and finished by Kitto.
Northampton responded with a try of their own after a swift attack which was finished by an unidentified scorer in the densest patch of fog and converted by James Grayson.
Cavaliers were soon ahead again after Luke Scully kicked a penalty to the corner, James Scott claimed the lineout and the pack drove Taufete’e over from close range.
Van Breda again tagged on the conversion but Cavaliers immediately relinquished the initiative with an attempt to run the restart from deep. The ball was knocked on and Northampton made the most of the gift by mauling Devante Onojaife over with Grayson’s conversion again levelling the scores.
Despite that setback Cavaliers remained committed to playing a quick and expansive game and, having worked themselves into another promising position, Cutting, who was on as a temporary replacement while Tom Dodd was having a head injury assessment, powered over.
Van Breda made a difficult conversion look easy and he maintained his 100 per cent record when David crossed for the bonus point try after Northampton turned over possession when they tried to run from deep.
The fog lifted for the second half which Cavaliers spent mostly in their own half. Northampton reduced the deficit when hooker James Fish was driven over from a lineout and then scrum-half Connor Tupai nipped in from close range for a try that Grayson converted to level the scores.
With Ollie Lawrence a menace in attack in his first match in three weeks, Cavaliers regained their composure and when Northampton were penalised under pressure Scully banged over a long range penalty.
Gareth Simpson almost made the game safe for Cavaliers when he splintered the Northampton defence with a superb break from near halfway before he was tap-tackled with the line in sight.
Cavaliers came again and when Northampton infringed with what proved to be the final play of the match, Scully gleefully accepted the gift.
Cavaliers | 15 Noah Heward, 14 Elias Caven (Hartpury) (Caven 73), 13 Scott van Breda (Lawrence 41), 12 Luke Scully, 11 Nick David, 10 Gareth Simpson, 9 Jono Kitto, 1 Kai Owen (Holsey 56), 2 Joe Taufete’e (Miller 41), 3 Ropate Rinakama, 4 Justin Clegg (Scott 4), 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Morgan Monks (Cutting 68), 7 Matt Cox, 8 Tom Dodd (C) (Cutting 21-31)
Replacements | 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Lewis Holsey, 18 Stef Thorp (Stourbridge), 19 James Scott, 20 Beck Cutting, 21 Callum Morris, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Ezra Caven (Old Redcliffians).
2m | Kitto try 5-0
3m | Van Breda con 7-0
6m | Wanderers try 7-5
7m | Grayson con 7-7
18m | Taufete’e try 12-7
19m | Van Breda con 14-7
20m | Onojaife try 14-12
21m | Grayson con 14-14
25m | Cutting try 19-14
26m | Van Breda con 21-14
32m | David try 26-14
33m | Van Breda con 28-14
46m | Fish try 28-19
47m | Grayson con 28-21
66m | Tupai try 28-26
67m | Grayson con 28-28
71m | Scully pen 31-28
80m | Scully pen 34-28