Alistair Hepher, the 24-year-old understudy for Paul Grayson, maintained the pressure he has been exerting on the England fly-half with another excellent kicking performance which yielded 19 points for the Saints. That tally included three penalties and conversions for all five of Northampton's touchdowns - courtesy of Matt Allen, Colin Allan, Garry Pagel, Grant Seely and a penalty try. Yesterday's victory, their seventh in eight games, pulled Northampton level on points with the league leaders, Leicester.
But defeat further punctured Richmond's promising start to the season even though the visitors contributed four tries of their own. Nick Walne went over twice while the England wing Spencer Brown and Western Samoan fly-half Earl Va'a managed one each.
London Irish moved nearer to mid-table security with a 30-19 home success over struggling Bedford. Both sides ran in three tries apiece, Nick Burrows going over twice for the Exiles and Simon Berridge once while Bedford's touchdowns came from Joe Ewens, Rory Underwood and Ben Whetstone.
Caerphilly moved up to fifth in the Welsh Premier Division with a 49- 19 home win over the bottom club Aberavon. Mike Wilson and Chris Brown each ran in a brace of tries for the hosts as Darren Griffiths claimed a similar double for the visitors and the former Great Britain rugby league captain Garry Schofield made his debut on an Aberavon scoresheet.
Schofield's former GB team-mate Andy Currier helped himself to a hat- trick of tries for London Welsh in their 62-27 demolition of Exeter in Allied Dunbar Two. Worcester, 13-9 winners at Orrell, moved level on points with the leaders Bristol, who entertain Moseley today. Steve Hackney scored two tries as Waterloo extended Blackheath's run of defeats to 11 with a 24-18 victory at Rectory Field.