Northampton Saints signed Australia international back Rob Horne back in early February for the 2017/18 campaign. Horne, 28, was picked up from New South Wales Waratahs where he made 101 appearances over his nine-year stint; he also also made 34 appearances for Australia since turning professional. With only a few games played in the Aviva Premiership this season, Horne had failed to get over the whitewash, but this changed on Sunday and is this a symbol of the a Saints season about to be consistently better?
Horne described his profitable afternoon as getting the monkey off of his back, and unless he was literally talking about Dylan Hartley we can only assume he was talking about the drawn blanks in his previous three outings. He is also forging a great partnership with England centre Luther Burrell, who appears to have found his brain again after at least 18 months of looking like a player who was wearing his hat too tight for long periods. This settled midfield will allow Jim Mallinder to give an extended run to his son Harry in the ten shirt, which will be both good for the lad who was moved around mercilessly last season, and the club who were mediocre for periods due in large part to the fading abilities of Stephen Myler. The hope for a better season with this less Myler more Mallinder approach has been confirmed by fans, pundits and sports betting operator Unibet.
Saints headed into the game against London Irish with two successive wins under their belt and they were looking to make it a hat trick of consecutive victories at the Madjeski Stadium. Northampton had gotten off to a great start and had headed into the break 26-6 up, with a bonus point, thanks to two tries from Rob Horne and one from Mike Hayward, with the hugely underrated Nic Groom among the scoring too. It was solid win to confirm the turnaround of their season after the horror show vs Saracens at Twickenham on the opening weekend.
Saints fans would do well to temper their expectations based on this win as beating London Irish in their current form is about as difficult as being JIm Mallinder’s barber; but three wins from their last three games, Horne & Burrell showing form and consistency and up to 3rd in the table and level on points with second placed Saracens is not a bad position to be in.
Even George North is smiling. Truly we are living in the future