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Saints still in the mix

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 16:49

- 09/10/2006 16:49

Northampton Saints are clinging on to the shirt tails of Pool leaders Biarritz Olympique and need a bonus point victory over Border Reivers to make next weekend’s showdown against the French really interesting.

And they will be hopeful of achieving that goal after turning over the Scottish side 37-13 in Round 2. The 2000 winners of the Heineken Cup were dominant at home, but will the trip up north pose them problems?

It seems unlikely as Borders’ only win in the competition this season has been over Italian side Overmach Parma.

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Saints still in the mix

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 16:49

- 09/10/2006 16:49

Northampton earned a vital bonus point to keep them in the mix for quarter-final qualificaiton.

But Borders having the better of the opening exchanges. The home side were awarded a penalty just inside Saints’ half and they opted to kick for touch – the ensuing lineout saw hooker Ross Ford charge down the wing for a try.

Saints came straight back though from the kick-off and moved straight into Borders territory to give flanker Paul Tupai the chance to raise his arm in celebration of a try. Carlos Spencer converted and then added a penalty minutes later to bring the score to 5-10 after 16 minutes.

And Saints looked to be heading towards the try-line again as the clocked ticked past the first quarter when Ben Cohen successfully charged down a Gregor Townsend kick and Tupai and Pat Barnard set to work making the extra yards. But somehow the chance went begging and Borders reclaimed the momentum when a loose pass was intercepted by winger Simon Danelli for a second try for the home side.

Saints had to be a little more patient for their second score while both teams lost Tom Smith and Stuart Grimes to the sin-bin while they were given a little time to recover from a brief spat. During their absences, full-back Callum MacRae missed a penalty but Saints did manage a try. A lineout on the Borders 10-metres line fell neatly into Mark Robinson’s hands for him to release Spencer who did the damage midfield to release full-back Paul Diggin for the try. At half-time, the Murrayfield scoreboard read 12-17.

The second half opened well for the visitors with Cohen carving his way through Borders’ defence and then popping over the line before the first minute had time to complete. Spencer took the extras and Saints were up 12-24.

Cohen took his second and his 99th try of his Saints career five minutes later to win his club of 10 years the all-important bonus point. This time a Spencer kick glanced off a Borders player but was skilfully picked up by Johnny Howard, who headed off down the same central channel that was exploited by Cohen earlier in the half. Cohen was the man over the line though to take the scoreline to 12-29.

Saints then began to bring on some replacements and the flow of play was disturbed enough for Borders to score their third try through the nifty footwork of MacRae. He converted his own try to cut the deficit to 10 points.

As the game entered its last 10-minute spell, Saints had to put in some serious defensive work to keep Borders from the try-line. But the visitors were successul and relieved when the whistle went for full-time.


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