Northampton secured back-to-back wins in all competitions for the primary time since September as they inflicted a primary Champions Cup defeat of the season on Clermont Auvergne.
Saints – already out of Europe following 4 straight reversals – ran in 5 tries courtesy of Teimana Harrison, Nafi Tuitavake, Ben Foden, Ken Pisi and Cobus Reinach in a 34-21 victory at a buzzing Franklin’s Gardens.
The loss for Clermont, final season’s runners-up, additionally means they have to wait till subsequent weekend to safe qualification for the knockout levels.
It had been plain crusing for Clermont on this competitors to this point with 4 wins from 4 placing them in pole place to succeed in the final eight for one more 12 months.
However regardless of an early effort from Remy Grosso and an Isaia Toeava attempt, plus the boot of France worldwide Morgan Parra, Clermont had been nonetheless unable to return to successful methods.
The French giants entered this conflict towards a Saints facet – nonetheless discovering their toes since Jim Mallinder’s December sacking – on the again of three straight Prime14 defeats.
Restoring delight was the goal for Alan Gaffney’s Saints who made three modifications from the dramatic victory towards Gloucester final weekend.
Tom Stephenson was in for the injured Luther Burrell with Kieran Brookes and Christian Day bolstering the pack.
It was the guests who got here out of the blocks quickest and went forward inside two minutes. Wing Grosso was the person to the touch down as he powered his method over within the nook with Parra mastering the conversion from the touchline.
The Saints quickly settled and located a response on 13 minutes with quantity eight Harrison touching down within the nook following a surging break from lock Api Ratuniyarawa however Harry Mallinder couldn’t land the conversion.
Clermont prolonged their lead via full-back Toeava’s attempt to a Parra penalty on 31 minutes. However Northampton battled again earlier than the break when Tuitavake sped via unscathed along with his first contact of the ball after changing the injured Ahsee Tuala.
After the interval, the hosts went into overdrive. First Mallinder kicked a penalty in off the put up earlier than wing Foden blitzed his method via out extensive. This time fly-half Mallinder was spot on with the additional two factors.
Parra hoisted Clermont again forward with two penalties, whereas Mallinder couldn’t convert a kickable alternative to revive the hosts’ lead.
However the miss didn’t matter when Pisi scored the bonus-point attempt to the inconsistent Mallinder drilled the conversion for a six-point benefit with 15 minutes to play.
Substitute Reinach put the seal on issues on 73 minutes – powerfully punching over – as Mallinder kicked the conversion to nicely and really rub salt within the wounds of Clermont.
It means Gaffney has now received each of his two video games in caretaker cost, the veteran coach making an early case to tackle the job full-time for subsequent season, ought to he need it.