Aviva Premiership leaders the Northampton Saints have suffered their first loss of the new season of the Premiership when they were handed a humbling by the London Irish on Saturday.
The Exiles ran out 39-17 winners against The Saints, ending their record of a perfect start to the new season as they chase their first title in the new format. Northampton, who were high on confidence and were playing with some style came to Reading with a much depleted side with as many as 11 first team players missing from the lineup.
But for a championship chasing team, such losses are taken in its stride and that is how the Northampton Saints approached the game, only to understand that their bench strength is no match compared to the other teams chasing the title as they were humbled by a brilliant London Irish side on the night. To be very honest, The Saints were slightly underestimating the abilities of The Exiles, who, before the match, were languishing at 11th in the 12 team league and were caught completely unaware when The Exiles made such a blistering start to the game.
The Saints did mount a comeback of sorts in the second half but having gone down 18-0 in the first half, they had left a mountain to climb for themselves and in the end, and the London side ran out worthy winners of the match to climb up the table.
The Saints, who will be without some of their key players for a lengthy period of time will need to come up with a strategy that will enable them to hold on to the lead they have built at the top. With the likes of Harlequins FC and Saracens FC among the chasing pack, the Northampton Saints must up their game if they want to secure the title.