Northampton Saints came through part one of their Italian job unscathed as they scored six tries against struggling Treviso.
Jim Mallinder’s side cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to qualify for the knockout stages after losing to Racing Metro in round one, and the result was never in doubt against the side currently rooted to the bottom of the Guinness Pro12.
Scores from Samu Manoa, Alex Waller, Ben Foden, Luther Burrell, George Pisi and a penalty try ensured a comfortable afternoon for the Aviva Premiership leaders, who welcome Treviso to Franklin’s Gardens next week.
“Away wins in Europe are few and far between so we have to be very happy with that performance,” said Waller. “And it’s not very often I get on the score-sheet, so I will enjoy that one.
“But there is never a perfect game so there are things to work on and we want to put on a good performance in front of our fans next week.”
Treviso had started brightly and defended well before Manoa got Saints’ first try on nine minutes, finishing a patient build-up for his fifth of the season.
Former Worcester and Wasps outside-half Joe Carlisle then got the home side on the scoreboard with a penalty as Saints struggled to take control of the contest.
It was only when the Italians had lock Francesco Minto sent to the sin bin for tackling Sam Dickinson in an offside position that the visitors started to dominate.
Stephen Myler kicked the penalty to touch and, with a one-man advantage, Saints’ eight were too strong for the Treviso pack and prop Waller was able to plunge over the line for their second try.
Northampton couldn’t add to their tally before the interval but had wrapped up the bonus point within nine minutes of the resumption, England international Foden notching his second try in as many games after excellent work from Burrell. Myler added the extras.
Within a minute Burrell went over himself for Saints’ fourth, making the most of some good handling from Tom Stephenson and Jamie Elliot.
The impressive Carlisle helped drag Treviso back into the game with a delightful pass to put wing Ludovico Nitoglia over in the corner.
But Treviso’s troubles continued and when they came under pressure at the scrum close to their line, the entire front row stood up and referee Leo Colgan awarded the penalty try.
Treviso then went down to 14 men for the second time when replacement Romulo Acosta was shown a yellow card, but they had a second try moments later when Carlisle snapped up an interception from Stephenson’s laboured pass and he showed a good turn of pace to race clear.
There was still time for one more score as replacement George Pisi touched down for the Saints with a minute to go.
Treviso: J Hayward; S Ragusi, M Campagnaro (L Morisi, 40), S Christie, L Nitoglia; J Carlisle, A Lucchese (E Gori 53); M Muccignat (M Zanusso, 43), D Giazzon (A Kudin, 70), S Manu (R Acosta, 38), A Pavanello (capt), F Minto, S Favaro, A Zanni (M Barbini, 14), D Budd.
Northampton: B Foden (J Wilson, 60); K Pisi, T Stephenson, L Burrell (G Pisi, 54), J Elliott; S Myler, L Dickson; A Waller (E Waller, 53), M Haywood (D Hartley, 60), G Denman (T Mercey, 53), S Dickinson, C Day (C Lawes, 65), C Clark (T Wood, 53), P Dowson (capt), S Manoa.
Referee: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
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