Warriors warmed up for next week’s Gallagher Premiership opener against London Irish with an encouraging victory in a richly entertaining friendly at Franklin’s Gardens.
It was a match of two teams and four quarters – three of 30 minutes the last of 20 minutes – which gave valuable game time to all fit and available squad members which was the main purpose of the exercise.
But Warriors also played with flair and ambition both with their more experienced team, who won the first two periods 15-10, and then their youngsters – including Three Pears Warriors Aacdemy players Finn Smith, Harry Spencer and Seb Atkinson – who held their own against Northampton’s own changed side.
The brilliance of Melani Nanai, who scored one audacious individual try and set up another for Gareth Simpson, was the highlight of a highly satisfactory work-out for Warriors.
Joe Batley also showed his pace and athleticism by galloping over from 30 metres for the opening try after 18 minutes and Jono Kitto and Jamie Shillcock both produced eye-catching performances when the sides rang the changes.
Nanai came off before the end of the second period purely as a precaution after he took a slight knock, Sam Lewis departed early to receive treatment for a knock to his left knee and flanker Matti Williams failed a HIA late on.
Those were minor blemishes on an otherwise good afternoon’s work for Warriors who finished level on points with Northampton in last season’s Premiership table.
There were first appearances for new recruits George Merrick and Marc Thomas and a return to action after a lengthy injury lay-off for Morgan Monks who was industrious in attack and defence in the last two quarters.
Northampton’s tries in the first two quarters came from driving mauls while Warriors unsettled their hosts with aggressive defence and opportunism in attack.
Batley’s tries was eclipsed by Nanai’s outstanding score from an arcing run that left the Saints’ defence flat-footed.
Nanai also got away from the defenders to set up Simpson who followed up a deft kick ahead.
Although Northampton pulled level at 15-15 within three minutes of the start of the third period, Warriors were soon back in front when Chris Pennell set up Kitto for the try.
Alex Hearle popped up in a driving maul to claim the fifth try and although full-back Tommy Freeman ghosted through for Northampton Warriors’ solid defence sealed the win.
Under the match conditions no conversions or penalty kicks for goal were taken.
Backs (quarters played in)| Melani Nanai (1-2), Chris Pennell (2-4), Jono Kitto (3-4), Michael Heaney (4), Harry Spencer (3-4), Oli Morris (1-2), Alex Hearle (2-4), Scott van Breda (2-4), Francois Venter (1-2), Seb Atkinson (3-4), Ed Fidow (1-2), Nick David (1-2) , Billy Searle (1-2), Jamie Shillcock (2-4), Finn Smith (4), Francois Hougaard (1-2), Gareth Simpson (2-4).
Forwards (quarters played in)| Ethan Waller (1-2), Marc Thomas (2-4), Callum Black(3-4), Kai Owen (4), Niall Annett (1-2), Beck Cutting (2-4), Isaac Miller (3-4), Nick Schonert (1-2) , Richard Palframan (2-3), Joe Morris (3-4), Anton Bresler (1 -2), George Merrick (2-3), James Scott (4), Andrew Kitchener (1 -2) , Joe Batley (1 and 2), Justin Clegg (3-4), Marco Mama (1-2), Matt Cox (3), Sam Lewis (1), Matti Williams (3-4), Jack Forsythe (3-4), Tom Dodd (1-2), Morgan Monks (2-4).
18m | Batley try 0-5
35m | Collins try 5-5
37m | Nanai try 5-10
45m | Wood try 10-10
48m| Simpson try 10-15
63m | Dingwall try 15-15
66m | Kitto try 15-20
74m | Hearle try 15-25
96m | Tommy Freeman try 20-25