Aviva Premiership: Seven-try Northampton thrash London Welsh
Last Updated: 30/11/14 9:07pm
Defending champions Northampton returned to the top of the Premiership with a 43-14 bonus-point win over a brave but limited London Welsh, who have now lost all nine league matches this season.
London Welsh's defensive deficiencies - they have conceded 412 points in the top flight this season - include a real vulnerability at the rolling maul and just five minures in a patient and well-executed drive ended with Calum Clark burrowing over.
To their credit, London Welsh remained positive and, after seeing Stephen Myler hit the post with a penalty, Seb Stegmann and Peter Browne both came close as the home side stretched play from touchline to touchline.
A misplaced pass eventually allowed Luther Burrell to hack forward but London Welsh's defence was, for the time being, showing more obduracy than in some encounters this season as they held firm under pressure.
Welsh again showed impressive ambition as they kept the ball in hand for several phases before a huge tackle from Samu Manoa on Lachlan McCaffrey ended the pressure in uncompromising style.
The Exiles still threatened with a well-worked move involving Seb Jewell, Nick Scott and Gordon Ross, but - as has so often been the case during a demoralising second season in the Premiership - they were unable to find a cutting edge.
For all the home side's resistance, Northampton always seemed in control and the expected second try came when Myler was put in at the corner by Burrell.
And after Exiles prop Ricky Reeves was deservedly given a yellow card for killing the ball, the visitors added a third before the break as once again a rolling maul ended up with a Saints player - the outstanding Manoa, on this occasion - touching down for a score and a 17-0 half-time lead.
Any faint hopes of a Welsh fightback were killed off within five minutes of the restart as Jamie Elliott - after brilliant work once again from Manoa - and then Ben Foden crossed in quick succession.
The Exiles did at least get over for a score of their own through prop Taione Vea, after he burst off the back of a ruck, but almost straight from the resulting kick-off James Wilson produced a fine solo run to go over for his team's sixth.
With the result beyond any doubt with half an hour still to play, the game began to peter out as a succession of changes by both sides and a lack of urgency on Northampton's part combined to deadening effect.
Replacement Sam Dickinson was sent to the sin-bin for going off his feet at the ruck, but Welsh lacked the sustained pressure or invention in possession to take advantage in the manner Saints managed to such devastating effect earlier in the match.
Northampton's seventh came when a miss-pass allowed flanker Ben Nutley to score a simple try, but the final word went to the Exiles as Nic Reynolds showed good pace to speed past two Saints forwards for a consolation try.