Planet Rugby

Summit spot for four-try Saints

17th April 2010 16:52

Share:

Chris Ashton

Bang on form: Chris Ashton

Northampton Saints moved the top of the Guinness Premiership on Saturday thanks to a 38-23 bonus-point win over Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens.

Chris Ashton scored a hat-trick in a rematch of the LV= Cup final, but the Saints far from had it all their own way, with the visitors' persistence a key factor in making it a thrilling encounter.

The game started with the trading of penalties, but the next chance at points ended in a 10-point swing in the Saints favour.

Awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Gloucester's Jake Boer decided inexplicably to run the kickable chance and the ball was turned over inside Northampton's 22.

Ben Foden's thumping clearance earned a lineout from which the ball quickly found its way into the hands of Ashton.

The league's top try scorer put his foot down to race between defenders and under the posts with Stephen Myler converting.

Nevertheless, the visitors were enjoying their fair share of possession and employed the tactic of running from deep, James Simpson-Daniel in particular worrying the Northampton defence.

After kicking his first penalty of the day though, Nicky Robinson could not convert his and Gloucester's chances, missing two almost identical chances.

The next Gloucester attack again ended in points for the Saints as Ben Foden sliced apart the visiting backline in a superb counter-attack.

Ashton was almost released again and although he was hauled down short, play came back for another Myler penalty.

Gloucester hit back four minutes later as Simpson-Daniel managed to pop the ball up to Charlie Sharples to score.

Robinson was back on the mark with the extras and Gloucester were also back in the game.

There was still time for another Myler penalty, this time for offside, and although Gloucester attacked again, the gap stayed at six points at the break.

A frenetic second half started with Saints on the board first. Despite early pressure from the visitors, Myler's smart turnover set the platform for Dylan Hartley to cross from an Ashton offload.

Gloucester responded quickly with another Robinson penalty but Ashton was involved again to race through gaps in the Gloucester defence for his second and Northampton's third.

The game could have swung once more however when Hartley was sin-binned for killing the ball cynically.

Robinson slotted the simple penalty and although the Saints looked to have held out, Dave Attwood finished a patient Gloucester move just before Hartley returned.

With one score in it, the action moved from end to end but Shane Geraghty, on for Myler, struck a decisive penalty blow to take the Saints two scores clear.

With time up and Gloucester attacking, the Saints turned over and Bruce Reihana raced clear. To the surprise of the whole ground the Kiwi unselfishly popped the ball to Ashton inside the dead ball zone for the winger's hat-trick.

The scorers:

For Northampton:
Tries: Ashton 3, Hartley
Con: Myler 3
Pen: Myler 3, Geraghty

For Gloucester:
Tries: Sharples, Attwood
Con: Robinson 2
Pen: Robinson 3

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana, 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 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Mark Easter, 20 Neil Best, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Joe Ansbro.

Gloucester: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Jonny May, 12 Mike Tindall (capt), 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Adam Eustace, 7 Jake Boer, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Pierre Capdevielle, 19 Will James, 20 Peter Buxton, 21 Jordi Pasqualin, 22 Olly Morgan.

Referee: Andrew Small

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale13:00
Castres vs Leinster15:15
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles19:45
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Brive vs Zebre19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade FrancaisTBC
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615