Premiership: Northampton Saints 14-18 Bath

George Ford
George Ford kicked all 18 points for Bath, who finished ninth in the Premiership last season
Premiership
Northampton (0) 14
Tries: Groom 2
Bath (6) 18
Pens: Ford 4 Drop-goals: Ford 2

George Ford's boot gave Bath victory over Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens in Todd Blackadder's first league match in charge of the visitors.

Ford, whose father Mike was replaced by Blackadder, scored four penalties and two drop-goals, while Saints fly-half Harry Mallinder missed two penalties.

Nic Groom scored two late tries for Saints on his debut, but Bath held on.

The win was dampened for Bath as Wales back row Taulupe Faletau left the field with injury early on his debut.

Faletau's premature exit ended his battle with debutant Saints number eight Louis Picamoles, but the France international was unable to influence the scoreline.

The Blue, Black and Whites controlled the game in the Northamptonshire rain, but Saints could have gone in level had Mallinder, who played at centre and full-back last season but started in the 10 shirt on Saturday, made his kicks.

Saints' ill-discipline was something that cost them last season when they gave away 239 penalties and it continued to creep into their play on Saturday.

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder: "It was difficult. We haven't had any rain in training and it is a completely different game when it rains. We are all learning, but there were some positive aspects as well.

"We want to get our balance right between our attacking and defensive game and we will be swapping and changing throughout the season.

"Defensively we were very strong, generally they didn't create any chances and we were putting them under a lot of pressure, but attacking-wise we still have some things work on."

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder: "I am just impressed with him [George Ford] as a young man. He showed out there he can put all the distractions behind him and get on with his rugby.

"In that first half the players absorbed so much pressure and George kept the scoreboard ticking. We still had belief at half-time and the first 20 minutes after the break were outstanding.

"Our forward pack worked so hard. I said at half-time we were winning this game because of them. We put a lot of pressure on their line-out, which was one of their weapons and worked really hard defensively.

"There is a really good framework here. There is not a lot you want to change, just a few tweaks, a little bit of belief, some systems and new ideas and making sure we have the culture right."

Northampton: Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell; Tuala, Mallinder, Dickson; Waller, Hartley, Brookes, Lawes, Paterson, Wood (capt), Gibson, Picamoles.

Replacements: Clare, Ma'afu, Hill, Dickinson, Harrison, Groom, Myler, North.

Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Clark, Banahan; Ford, Fotuali'i; Catt, Batty, Thomas, Ewels, Attwood, Garvey (c), Denton, Faletau.

Replacements: Dunn, Auterac, Palma-Newport, Sisi, Ellis, Cook, Priestland, Williams.

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