Planet Rugby

Efficient win for pace-setting Saints

11th December 2010 12:47

Share:

Chris Ashton scoring against Cardiff Blues for Northampton

Key score: Chris Ashton

Northampton strengthened their position at the top of Pool One thanks to a 23-15 victory against Cardiff Blues at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

Five yellow cards were shown in a tetchy affair but Saints just about had the better of their visitors with scores from Paul Diggin and Chris Ashton adding to a good kicking effort from Stephen Myler. All of Cardiff's points came via the boot of Dan Parks, who missed just one long-ranger.

Defeat for the Blues means that they now must win the return fixture against Saints in Cardiff next week to keep their last-eight hopes alive.

Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Dai Young had complained about the legality of the home scrum in the build-up to the game and the Blues were the first to benefit as French referee Roman Poite paid close attention to the set piece.

After Parks landed a third-minute penalty to kick the away side into the lead, the Saints scrum was penalised in the sixth and eighth minute.

But the home pack quickly sorted out their problems to exert intense pressure on the Cardiff scrum which fell foul of the referee four times as they defended desperately.

Soane Tonga'uiha's barnstorming run down the right wing set up the offensive. Cardiff did well to keep the giant Tongan and flanker Tom Wood out before running into scrum trouble.

They conceded two penalties and a free-kick to the right of the posts before Northampton, opting for scrums rather than kicking for goal, moved the ball through several pairs of hands where the Cardiff scrum came up and was penalised again.

Following yet another scrum, Northampton scrum-half Ryan Powell whipped the ball out to Diggin who squeezed over in the corner, with Myler landing the conversion from wide out.

But, despite being on the receiving end for most of the first half, Cardiff led at the interval thanks to the consistent long-range kicking of Parks.

He struck from 40 metres on the half hour after Hartley illegally ripped the ball out of a ruck and again from a similar distance four minutes later for another hands-in-the-ruck offence to put his side 9-7 ahead.

Two minutes later, he landed again from just inside the Northampton half after Saints centre James Downey was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Cardiff's Wales winger Tom James.

But Cardiff's numerical advantage lasted only two minutes before prop Tau Filise followed Downey to the sin bin for handling the ball in the ruck, a decision which had Blues skipper complaining forcibly to the referee at half-time.

Myler reduced the Northampton deficit to two points with the resulting penalty and the Saints took the lead two minutes into the second half after coming out with all guns firing.

Roger Wilson was hauled down just short of the Cardiff line and then the visitors used all their defensive strength to stop the Northampton pack rumbling over their line.

But the numbers required left them short of resources out wide and the Saints whipped the ball to England full-back Ben Foden who sent Ashton over, with Myler again converting to restore the Northampton lead.

Two more Myler penalties, in the 54th and 66th minutes, ensured that Cardiff did not even have the consolation of a losing bonus point to show for their efforts despite a further penalty from Parks after England lock Courtney Lawes was sin-binned for playing the ball when he was off his feet.

Despite being a man down, Northampton should have had another try when James completely missed Myler's high kick to the corner - but Ashton spilled the chance before booting the ball into the crowd in self-disgust.

There was still time for hookers Dylan Hartley, of Northampton, and Gareth Williams, of the Blues, to be yellow-carded in the 76th minute for their part in a pack punch-up and, to add to the drama, there was a brief hold-up when some of the floodlights failed.

The scorers:

For Northampton:
Tries: Diggin, Ashton
Con: Myler 2
Pen: Myler 3

For Cardiff Blues:
Pen: Parks 5

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Joe Ansbro.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Chris Czekaj, 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tom Shanklin, 11 Tom James, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Paul Tito (capt), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Scott Andrews, 18 John Yapp, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Tom Slater, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Gavin Evans.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Cyril Lafon (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand15:00
More International Match fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
Sunday , November 2
Saracens vs Harlequins13:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs EdinburghLeinster vs Edinburgh Preview
Glasgow vs Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Ospreys vs ConnachtOspreys vs Connacht Preview
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse13:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
Sunday , November 2
Toulon vs Grenoble13:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615