Northampton crack the ton
January 2, 2000

Jon Sleightholme and Federico Mendez scored four tries apiece as Northampton completely overwhelmed Tetley's Bitter Cup minnows Nuneaton. Saints ran in 18 tries as the game became embarrassing for the Jewson Two North division side.

Northampton ripped Nuneaton apart in the first half at Franklin's Gardens as they built up a 57-3 lead at the break with some sparkling interplay between forwards and backs.

Former Bath and England winger Sleightholme took only half an hour to grab his four tries before he went off. England second row Tim Rodber, back after a six-week absence through injury, gave a masterful display at number five wreaking havoc in the visitors' defence with his powerful surges.

With James Bramhall, in for the rested Matt Dawson, conducting proceedings from scrum-half and 7ft tall Richard Metcalfe, monopolising line-out possession the Saints dominated every aspect of the game and Nuneaton had to live off the scraps.

The first try came after five minutes, Rodber burst through the middle of the Nuneaton defence taking three defenders with him and created an overlap for Sleightholme to touch down in the corner.

Sleightholme's second came two minutes later after a sharp burst from Wales centre Allan Bateman.

Fellow winger Harvey Thorneycroft then got in on the act, scoring two tries in two minutes, the first after a scintillating break from fly-half Alistair Hepher.

A piece of magic from Rodber gave Sleightholme his hat-trick after 20 minutes. The lock forward sent three Nuneaton defenders the wrong way with a superb dummy and his floated pass gave Sleightholme a comfortable run-in.

The game's best try, and Sleightholme's fourth started in Saints' 22. The former Bath star came off his wing to take a short pass from Hepher and then sprinted 70 metres and comfortably rounded the Nuneaton defence.

There was then no let-up for Nuneaton as Argentinian Mendez and Hepher scored further tries as the Saints passed the half-century mark. Marc Thomas grabbed a consolation penalty for Nuneaton just before the break.

With victory assured the Saints refused to take their foot off the pedal in the second half. They ran in further tries from Thorneycroft, Mendez (2), Chris Johnson (2), Andy Bramhall, Simon Holmes and Simon Hepher.

Alistair Hepher took his personal points tally to 33 with 14 conversions to add to his try.

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