Saints deepen Montpellier gloom

15th Jan 2009, 21:56

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Northampton Saints booked a home quarter-final berth in the European Challenge Cup on Thursday with a hard-earned 28-24 win at stricken Montpellier.

Northampton Saints booked a home quarter-final berth in the European Challenge Cup on Thursday with a hard-earned 28-24 win at stricken Montpellier.

The Saints laboured through the second half of a match in which they were clearly superior but were guilty of some lackadaisical handling and rucking at times which nearly let their hosts back into the match.

Ben Foden set up first-half tries for Chris Mayor and Stephen Myler before Sean Lamont's late strike sealed the deal at the Stade Yves du Manoir.

Montpellier took an early lead after Francois Trinh-Duc booted a penalty inside the opening 90 seconds.

Northampton quickly made light of the setback and asserted their superiority.

Foden and Paul Diggin combined to allow Mayor to touch down in the sixth minute.

Myler added the conversion and the hosts' misery increased when flanker Jerome Vallee was shown a yellow card for throwing a punch at Mayor.

The Guinness Premiership outfit doubled their try count in the 21st minute when Foden fed Myler to crash over, but the fly-half missed a conversion and penalty chance to extend the Saints' lead in an ordinary first half.

The Saints failed to wake up after half-time, and Montpellier hit back and took a 17-15 lead when Frikkie Welsh and Louis Picamoles scored in quick succession, with Trinh-Duc landing both conversions.

But Myler edged the visitors back in front with two penalties and Lamont sealed the win with a glorious in and out step, before Grant Rees' late consolation try for the hosts that gave them a bonus point.

The scorers:

For Montpellier:
Tries:
Welsh, Picamoles, Rees
Cons: Trinh-Duc 3
Pen: Trinh-Duc

For Northampton:
Tries:
Mayor, Myler, Lamont
Cons: Myler 2
Pens: Myler 3

Montpellier: 15 Jean-Mathieu Alcalde, 14 Jacques Boussuge, 13 Frikkie Welsh, 12 Sylvain Mirande, 11 Sébastien Kuzbik, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Julien Tomas, 8 Jérome Vallée, 7 Louis Picamoles, 6 Vassili Bost, 5 Michel Macurdy, 4 Gonçalo Uva, 3 Bruce Douglas, 2 Fabien Rofes, 1 Pietman Van Niekerk.
Replacements: 16 Joan Caudullo, 17 Philémon Toleafoa, 18 Benjamin Goze, 19 Didier Chouchan, 20 Adrien Tomas, 21 Rickus Lubbe, 22 Grant Rees.

Northampton Saints: 15 Bruce Reihana (c), 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 Chris Mayor, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Foden, 8 Mark Hopley, 7 Scott Gray, 6 Mark Easter, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Christian Day, 3 Barry Stewart, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Paul Shields, 17 Tom Smith, 18 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Carlos Spencer, 22 Sean Lamont.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Touch judges: Rob Dickson (Scotland), John Ferns (Scotland)
Television match official: Iain Heard (Scotland)