Planet Rugby

Foden and Saints see off Worcester

26th December 2009 18:03

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Ben Foden break v Wuss

Ben Foden: Helped himself to a crucial try

A peach of a second half try by Ben Foden helped Northampton to a 26-6 Guinness Premiership win over Worcester on Boxing Day at Sixways.

The full-back first set up Chris Ashton with a brilliant counter-attack from inside his own half and then scored the second five minutes from time to seal the win.

Phil Dowson's late score put a gloss on the performance, which saw Stephen Myler kick 11 points, while the Warriors only replies came through two Willie Walker penalties.

Northampton, however, still had to work hard to secure victory on one of their happy hunting grounds - they have lost only once at Worcester's Sixways ground - and were relieved Warriors' fly-half Walker missed two kickable penalties that might have allowed them to sneak their first Guinness Premiership win in three months.

Worcester did not deserve a Premiership record fourth consecutive draw but the margin was of defeat was harsh on a side that competed well for three-quarters of the game.

Northampton drew first blood when Myler slotted a straightforward penalty after Worcester captain Pat Sanderson had been penalised for coming in at the side of a ruck.

Another ruck infringement allowed Myler to double the lead but not before Worcester had tested Northampton's defence.

New Scotland centre Alex Grove made ground with a couple of penetrative runs and a hanging kick from Walker caused problems for Ashton only for referee Rob Debney to rule that the winger had been obstructed as he tried to gather the ball.

Worcester's failure to turn possession into points proved costly when Ashton picked off a floated pass from Grove and launched a counter-attack.

Saints maintained the pressure and when lock Craig Gillies was penalised for taking out the man without the ball, Myler slotted his third penalty.

Despite being reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes by Gillies' sin-binning, Worcester continued to play with purpose and they trimmed the lead by three points when Saints were caught killing the ball in a ruck and Walker kicked the penalty.

Worcester surged again from the re-start with former New Zealand winger Rico Gear snaffling a loose ball after Dylan Hartley lost possession in a crunching tackle from Sam Tuitupou.

The ball was set back for Walker but the fly-half's drop-goal attempt was charged down by Dowson.

Walker missed two penalty attempts and was successful with one either side of half-time before he was replaced by former Wales fly-half Matt Jones, who made his first Premiership appearance of the season following his recover from a broken foot.

Jones was soon in the action, but his attempted drop goal drifted wide.

Those proved costly lapses as Benjamin fumbled Johnny Arr's box kick and Foden scorched through a ponderous defence before he off-loaded to Ashton who went over under the posts with Myler converting.

Foden then crossed himself, using his strength to batter through after a period of forward pressure and Dowson embellished victory with a late third try.

The scorers:

For Worcester:
Pens: Walker 2

For Northampton:
Tries: Ashton, Foden, Dowson
Con: Myler
Pens: Myler 3

Worcester: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Adam Black.
Replacements: 16 Matt Mullan, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Olivier Sourgens, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 James Collins, 21 Ryan Powell, 22 Matthew Jones, 23 Dale Rasmussen.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Jon Vickers, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Christian Day, 20 Neil Best, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Chris Mayor.

Referee: Chris White
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Paul Dix
Television match official: Andrew Turner

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