NORTHAMPTON captain Dylan Hartley toasted a dream start to the season after Saints downed defending champions Leicester 27-19 in their Aviva Premiership opener.
Prop Soane Tonga’uiha set them on their way with two tries inside the first five minutes as the home side raced into a 17-point lead.
Leicester hit back before the break when Alesana Tuilagi touched down but Brian Mujati’s try reasserted Northampton’s superiority and rendered a late brace of scores from Scott Hamilton irrelevant.
“It’s a special achievement, seeing off a pack as powerful as Leicester’s, so we are feeling good inside,” said England hooker Hartley.
“They are a quality side so the victory is excellent. This is the perfect start to the season, a reward for our hard work and a positive attitude. Now it’s up to us to build on this.”
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill blamed his side’s “unimpressive” start, saying: “We were in the game, but we were also indisciplined, conceded too many penalties and we did not look after the ball well enough.”
Bath, meanwhile, began their campaign with a bonus-point 32-16 victory over Leeds Carnegie, despite a lukewarm display.
The visitors only led 10-9 at half-time, thanks to a try from full-back Nick Abendanon, but improved after the break and registered further scores from Sam Vesty, Matt Carraro and Luke Watson.
Head coach Steve Meehan said: “Yes, we got five points away from home but the performance is something that we need to improve on.”