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PREVIEW: Saints hoping to sneak in to last eight

Wednesday 20th January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Sur la pelouse de Scarlets sans aucune victoire cette saison en Champions Cup

Sur la pelouse de Scarlets sans aucune victoire cette saison en Champions Cup

Northampton Saints are hoping to sneak into the Champions Cup quarter-finals by heaping more misery on the winless Scarlets.

Jim Mallinder’s men kept themselves in the race for the last-eight with a 19-15 victory over Glasgow Warriors last weekend. The battling win gave the Saints 14-points from five rounds of Champions Cup action.

ASM Clermont Auvergne and Stade Francais also go into the final round with 14 points, and Wasps have 15 ahead of their make-or-break clash with Leinster Rugby. A bonus-point win would give the Aviva Premiership side a huge chance of qualification, but the Scarlets are desperate to register a first victory.
  Saints prop Ethan Waller said: “I don’t think we can go in hoping for help from other teams. We know what we need to achieve to be in with a chance of qualifying and what happens elsewhere is completely out of our hands. We’ll focus on what we can control. We know we have to win, maybe with a bonus point, if we want to qualify.

“We can’t afford to ease ourselves into the game as we did today otherwise we’ll be punished. Scarlets are out, but they have plenty of pride to play for and there’s never any love lost between the Welsh and the English. We’re going to have to come out firing.”

Scarlets suffered their record European defeat when Racing 92 thrashed them 64-14. But Scarlets wing Steffan Hughes wants to finish the Pool 3 campaign with a win.

He said: “It’s a tough one, they have played really well but we want to finish the competition on a high, put in a good performance and hopefully get the win,” he said.

“It'll be tough but like any other game we'll prepare well beforehand. It's just another game, you prepare well in the week and then it comes down to the day. It's very exciting.”


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REPORT: North buries Scarlets and gives Saints hope

Saturday 23rd January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Les joueurs de Northampton ont rempli leur mission sur la pelouse des Scarlets (22-10

Les joueurs de Northampton ont rempli leur mission sur la pelouse des Scarlets (22-10

George North scored against his former club to keep Northampton Saints in the hunt for a place in the quarter-finals of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

North crossed for the Saints fourth try that wrapped up a vital bonus point win and kept alive their hopes of progressing as runners-up. Man of the match Harry Mallinder, George Pisi and Sam Dickinson had all crossed earlier on at Parc Y Scarlets.

Now Saints must hope that results go their way on the final day of the pool stage. Scarlets grabbed a late consolation through prop Rhodri Jones but that was not enough to prevent a whitewash for only the third time in 21 years of European competition.

Scarlets side desperate to prove a point after their record loss at Racing last week and there was no doubting their desire with a heavy tackle that forced off Northampton flanker Jamie Gibson after just six minutes.

But Saints were gifted an easy opener by Scarlets when Morgan Allen’s pass was picked off by Mallinder and the centre stepped on the gas to grab his second try in successive weeks.

Saints knew they would likely need a bonus-point win after watching Toulon beat Bath before kick-off. And they were half-way there after 21 minutes when Pisi squeezed over for their second try.

Alex Waller made the initial burst and though Tom Kessell’s long pass went to ground, Pisi scooped up possession off the wet turf and stretched out of Tom Williams’ tackle to score.

Aled Thomas clawed back three points while Aaron Shingler’s turnover snuffed out a promising Northampton attack to limit Saints’ lead to 12-3 at the break. Sam Dickinson finished a trademark lineout drive before North raced onto Mallinder’s flat pass amid appeals from Scarlets for a forward pass.

Lee Dickson was binned for a cynical infringement as Scarlets rallied though 14-man Saints held out until Wales prop Rhodri Jones squeezed over in the final minute.

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