Saints extend perfect run
Worcester stage dramatic late fightback at Franklin's Gardens
Last Updated: 22/09/12 5:54pm
Luther Burrell: Scored two of Northampton's five tries
Northampton maintained their perfect start to the Aviva Premiership season after holding off a dramatic Worcester comeback to claim a 37-31 victory at Franklin's Gardens.
The Saints made it four wins from four as tries from Vasily Artemyev, Courtney Lawes, Mike Haywood and a double from Luther Burrell saw them claim the bonus point with less than an hour gone.
The hosts then took their foot off the gas and the Warriors ran in four tries in the final quarter to grab two unlikely bonus points for themselves.
Northampton showed the power of their pack in the maul early on, driving a penalty out of Worcester's pack and then stopping the Warriors' own effort at a line-out drive on their line.
Stephen Myler converted the penalty after Andy Goode had opened the scoring with three points of his own on four minutes, and the Saints fly-half added a second penalty before Burrell opened the try-scoring with two in five minutes.
The centre had already showed some neat footwork before scoring his first try on 20 minutes, when he blitzed round the outside of flanker Chris Jones to run home from 25 metres.
Burrell's third in two home games saw him step around the outside of opposing centre Alex Grove, with Myler successful with both conversions to give Northampton a 20-3 lead.
Northampton's best try came just before the half-hour mark as No 8 Rhys Oakley broke off a scrum on halfway and offloaded to Phil Dowson, who delivered a beautiful reverse pass for Artemyev to finish off from 20 metres.
Twice Worcester turned down the chance of three points to go for five, but their handling let them down more than once and they went into the break 25-3 in arrears.
Northampton wrapped up the bonus point nine minutes into the second half with Lawes, starting his first game since February 18, being sent over by the impressive Lee Dickson. Myler added the extras.
Burrell missed out on a hat-trick when he decided to cut inside and slipped with the line at his mercy before Ken Pisi dropped the ball. But replacement hooker Haywood eventually burrowed over for the fifth try of the afternoon.
Myler missed the conversion for a second time before he was replaced as Northampton emptied their bench.
But in doing so they switched off and Worcester took advantage run in two tries in two minutes courtesy of Jonny Arr and Josh Matavesi.
The Worcester bench had a huge impact, scoring all four tries with Josh Drauniniu sweeping over and then James Currie winning a crucial turnover to allow the Warriors to storm forward, win a penalty and see Ollie Hayes squirm over from the line-out to claim a bonus point.
More drama followed with Goode allowed to retake his missed conversion because Northampton charged too early.
Goode, who had been on target will all three of the previous conversions, landed it second time round to secure the losing bonus point with the last kick of the game.