Planet Rugby

Saints grab their first win

07th September 2008 15:21

Share:

Carlos Spencer back in the GP

He's back! Carlos Spencer tries to set his backs going

Northampton Saints made a triumphant return to the Guinness Premiership, beating Worcester 21-13 in an ordinary game at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday.

The first half proved several points, not least that the coaches and players are still finding their way around the new laws. At times in the first half, it almost seemed as thought the players were simply going through the motions for forty minutes while they worked out how referee Sean Davey was going to blow, and for what.

It also proved that most pundits were spot on in predicting that these two teams will spend the season staring nervously over their shoulders at the bottom of the table rather than gazing starry-eyed up it. Neither offered much on attack, and neither defence looked particularly belligerent either. Northampton's scrum did look good, but Worcester need so much work done in the forwards that perhaps the scrummaging dominance should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Thus did a blunt and laboured first half end 3-6 in favour of the visitors, with Matthew Jones landing two out of three penalties and counterpart Bruce Reihana only one out of three.

There were only two bits of try-time action worthy of note. Rico Gear made a clean break for Worcester after Dale Rasmussen had delayed the pass well. Gear chipped and chased, but scrum-half Lee Dickson covered well for the Saints.

Just after half an hour, Northampton strung together perhaps their one and only passage of play not either punctuated by the boot or turned over, taking some six phases by the Worcester line. An inside ball from Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe went through Paul Shields' arms and into Neil Best's and the Irishman - head and shoulders man of the match - scooted through, but Mr. Davey deemed that Shields had knocked the ball forward, the most marginal of calls.

Otherwise... well Worcester must still learn that they cannot play a wide game without getting at least some support to the breakdown to secure the ball, and those Northampton players who sliced through Division One defences last year may have been reminded that breaking a Premiership line is another matter entirely.

The second half wasn't a lot better, but Northampton's sense of purpose grew and they got an edge at the breakdown, which ultimately won them the game.

Ten minutes into it, and after a series of pre-ELV picks and drives, Worcester openside Tom Wood was sent to the bin for killing the ball. Four minutes later the Saints had their first try of the season, with Dylan Hartley's fresh legs carrying him through some tired tackling and to the line.

The Saints kept the intensity, and were further rewarded with fifteen minutes to go, with the forwards once again making the hard yards and the ball then travelling right to acres of space where Jon Clarke had a simple run-in.

From the kick-off, Hartley's penchant for conceding idiotic penalties reared its ugly head. A ridiculous obstruction handed Worcester front foot ball, and after the Warriors had turned over the ball twice more in promising positions, Sam Tuitupou - by far Worcester's most dangerous player - cut a fine line through the middle to send the Saints defence into panic.

From the ruck, Aleki Lutui took the ball and also charged through some awful tackling to the line. Jones converted to make it 18-13.

Reihana put the Saints eight ahead with a late penalty, ensuring the win and ultimately denying the visitors a bonus point as Worcester's brief revival faded and died. But let nobody be fooled: on this showing, this had all the makings of an early-season relegation battle.

The scorers:

For Northampton Saints:

Tries: Hartley, Clarke

Con: Reihana

Pens: Reihana 3

For Worcester:

Try: Lutui

Con: Jones

Pens: Jones 2

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Bruce Reihana (c), 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Scott Gray, 6 Neil Best, 5 Christian Day, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Paul Shields, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.

Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Tom Smith, 18 Alex Rae, 19 Mark Hopley, 20 Ben Foden, 21 Stephen Myler, 22 Joe Ansbro.

Worcester: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Matthew Jones, 9 Matt Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Netani Talei, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson (c), 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.

Replacements: 16 Chris Horsman, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Will Bowley, 19 James Collins, 20 Ryan Powell, 21 Loki Crichton, 22 Chris Pennell.

Referee: Sean Davey

Touch judges: Martin Buck, Don Helme

Assessor: Brian Campsall

Television match official: Brian Abrahams

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London WelshSale vs London Welsh Preview
London Irish vs SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Preview
Harlequins vs WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Preview
Bath vs LeicesterBath vs Leicester Preview
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Preview
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets vs Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse14:45
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Preview
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Preview
Manawatu vs Southland19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
Connacht 10 - 9 LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Brive 13 - 53 ToulonBrive vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 29 - 15 Pumas
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter310
2Saracens29
3Bath29
4Leicester Tigers29
5Northampton26