A good London Irish side that defeated by Northampton in a closely fought match. Ryan Lamb struck two early drop-goals before Saints hit back with tries from Jamie Elliott and Paul Diggin.

Jon Clarke then crossed on the stroke of half-time as the Exiles crumbled.

Diggin’s second try after the interval ensured the bonus point for Saints before Chris Hala’ufia went over for Irish and Topsy Ojo also touched down.

This was a hugely impressive performance by the home side, who were without six of their internationals, over their nearest rivals.

And it was built on a devastating first-half effort by the Northampton pack who laid the foundation for an utterly one-sided half of rugby.

Irish started brightly, spraying the ball across the width of the park, as Lamb gave them a six-point lead inside two minutes.