Bath are a Claassens apart from unlucky Saints

Bath 25 Northampton 14

Bath took over at the top of the Guinness Premiership thanks to two tries from their South African scrum-half, Michael Claassens.

The bustling former Springbok No 9 earned the plaudits of Jim Mallinder, Northampton's director of rugby, and also from Bath's head coach, Steve Meehan, who said: "Claassens is like an extra back-row forward. And he would have wanted to play well today because his parents have come over and were watching."

Watching was just what Saints were not doing when the 5ft 10in half-back propelled his 14st frame over from a close-range scrum late in the second half, after dummying to Joe Maddock out on the blind-side wing. His fly-half, Butch James, converted the scrum-half's second try.

That settled the result and although Saints hit back with a late try through the lock Juandre Kruger, they were too far behind.

Bath had got off to a fizzing start when, with just a minute and 15 seconds on the clock, James collected the ball from a scrum and slid a grubber kick through the Northampton defence.

Bath's bulky but surprisingly nimble left wing, Matt Banahan, chased after it and managed to touch down. James converted.

It was Banahan's second try in two minutes of play, the previous one having come in the dying seconds of last week's match here, but Bath then fizzled out somewhat as Saints came back at them. Penalties were exchanged between James and his opposite number, Stephen Myler, before Bath had a chance to increase their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Sadly, they handed the ball to Jack Cuthbert for a 50-metre shot. Bath's other big wing, playing at full-back here, may have a big boot but on this occasion he got his foot right under the ball and ended up chipping it as if he was using a nine iron.

The miss kept Northampton in touch, their points coming from two penalties kicked by Myler. They could have had more but the bounce of the ball and luck in general did not go their way. Some of the high balls they put up were badly misjudged by Cuthbert, but the ball just never seemed to fall kindly for the Saints. Nor, for that matter, did some of the decisions of the referee, Andrew Small.

After the break, and after Myler had edged Saints closer with his third penalty, Bruce Reihana failed to gather a through ball cleanly and ended up sending it deeper into the Northampton 22 with his knee. A scrum was awarded to Bath for an apparent knock-on. Four minutes later, after sustained pressure from the home team, Claassens barrelled over from close range for his first and Bath's second try.

Bath: J Cuthbert; J Maddock, A Crockett, S Hape (E Fuimaono-Sapolu, 62), M Banahan (A Higgins, 64); B James, M Claassens; D Flatman, L Mears (P Dixon, 69), M Stevens (D Bell, 78), S Hooper (J Harrison, 69), P Short, A Beattie, J Faamatuainu (D Browne, 62), M Lipman (capt).

Northampton: B Reihana (capt); P Diggin, J Clarke, J Downey (C Spencer, 72), S Lamont; S Myler, L Dickson (B Foden, 56); S Tonga'uiha (T Smith, 67), D Hartley, E Murray, I Fernandez-Lobbe (C Day, 67), J Kruger, M Easter (M Hopley, 72), R Wilson, S Gray.

Referee: A Small (Bedfordshire).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own