Planet Rugby

Saints getting that sinking feeling

10th March 2007 16:21

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Nick Abendanon

Nick Abendanon is congratulated on his try

Despite Robbie Kydd's late try which nicked a bonus point, Northampton Saints dropped to the bottom of the Guinness Premiership table after a 22-17 defeat to Bath on Saturday.

Given that Worcester were resurgent enough to win in Sale on Friday, it would appear that the Saints are fast becoming favourites for the drop, and this display did little to dispel that impression.

Bath's loss of control of the game - they were 22-3 up at one stage and cruising - took the edge off the victory for them but the win does take them out of the relegation dogfight - for the time being at least.

After a nervous start Bath had been quicker to settle and a Danny Grewcock drive forced Northampton to concede a penalty under the posts. Olly Barkley kicked the goal.

A series of penalties around the rucks and mauls by Northampton allowed Bath to maintain the pressure and Barkley added a second penalty four minutes later.

It was not just his goal kicking that was giving his side the upper hand though.

Saints were repeatedly forced back by his kicks to touch and he might have set up a try for Grewcock on 16 minutes only for Carlos Spencer to intercept before knocking the ball on.

Great defensive work by the Saints kept the home side out as the pressure built but the resistance came at a price when number eight Christian Labit was sent to the sin bin in the 19th minute.

It was no real surprise when Grewcock crashed over for the first try on 20 minutes having won the line out that initially set up the chance.

While Saints hooker Dylan Hartley was having trouble finding his line out jumpers Bath were enjoying plenty of possession although without the precision to finish off.

On 36 minutes however, full-back Nick Abendanon ran back a loose kick from his own 10-metre line, sprinting through a scattered defence until hauled down just short of the line by Bruce Reihana.

Bath kept possession and Abendanon was again on hand to stretch over for the unconverted try.

When Northampton did get a sniff of possession Spencer's passes repeatedly failed to find the right target.

One of the culprits was wing Matthieu Bourret but the Frenchman made amends three minutes into the second pass by putting Saints first points on the board with a penalty.

Barkley replied with his third penalty on 50 minutes after a punishing driving maul by the Bath back but the home side escaped shortly afterwards when Northampton thought they had scored until Kidd's pass to Paul Tupai was ruled forward

Barkley made it 22-3 on the hour but Bath then went on the defensive and Saints' scrum-half Mark Robinson stretched out to score on 68 minutes with Bourret adding the conversion.

As Bath lost their shape Northampton seized the chance of the losing bonus point when Spencer made space for Kydd to score on the left.

The scorers:

For Bath:

Tries: Grewcock, Abendanon

Pens: Barkley 4

For Northampton:

Tries: Robinson, Kydd

Cons: Bourret 2

Pens: Bourret

Yellow card: Labit (19, Northampton)

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 David Bory, 10 Chris Malone, 9 Nick Walshe, 8 Isaac Feaunati (c), 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Peter Short, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Barnes.

Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Hottie Louw, 19 James Scaysbrook, 20 Chev Walker, 21 Shaun Berne, 22 Andy Williams.

Northampton: Northampton: 15 Bruce Reihana (c), 14 Matthieu Bourret, 13 Seamus Mallon, 12 Robbie Kydd, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Mark Robinson, 8 Christian Labit, 7 Darren Fox, 6 Paul Tupai, 5 Christian Short, 4 Damien Browne, 3 John Brooks, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Tom Smith

Replacements: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Soane Tonga'uhia, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Matt Lord, 20 David Gerard, 21 Ben Lewitt, 22 Mark Hopley, 23 Johnny Howard, 24 Stephen Myler, 25 Vaughan Going

Referee: Roy Maybank

Touch judges: Ashley Reay, Stuart Terheege

Assessor: Ed Morrison

Television match official: Matt Peters

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