Northampton edge closer to European Quarter finals

Northampton Saints moved closer to European Rugby Champions Cup quarter final qualification by beating the Ospreys 9-20 at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

The result means that the Ospreys cannot qualify for the quarter finals while Northampton are second behind Racing Metro in Pool 5 who are also on 19 points.

Northampton Saints have a match at home next week against Racing so their destiny is in their hands.

English Premiership champions scored tries through Calum Clark and George North, with fly-half Stephen Myler adding both conversions and two penalties.

The Ospreys could only register three Dan Biggar penalties as their own hopes of advancing from Pool 5 were ended.

Saints can now move on to the pool decider against Racing Metro next weekend knowing a victory will give them a home quarter-final, while even a losing bonus-point could be enough to claim a last-eight spot.

The Ospreys knew anything other than a bonus-point win would end their slim hopes of reaching the quarter-finals, and they made an enterprising start.

Justin Tipuric made a lovely midfield break from Biggar’s pass early on and the pressure yielded a penalty which the Wales number 10 kicked to give the hosts an early lead.

The lively opening continued with a breathless passage of play sparked by Ospreys full-back Dan Evans. His scything run took the home side into the Saints 22, but a turnover saw Ken Pisi return the ball with interest before the counter was halted at the halfway line.

Unfortunately for Ben Foden it marked his last involvement as a tweaked knee saw him leave the fray and James Wilson replace him.

It was already clear Northampton were in the ascendancy up front, and good scrum pressure yielded their first try in the 16th minute.

Tyler Ardron was forced to hurriedly pick up at the base on his own line, and when Rhys Webb tried to box-kick the scrum-half was charged down by Tom Wood and Clark pounced to score.

Biggar and Myler exchanged penalties before a moment of controversy. George Pisi was guilty of a tip-tackle on Biggar but, with the crowd baying for a red card, referee Jerome Garces decided a yellow would suffice.

Biggar dusted himself down to kick the resulting penalty, but the Ospreys gifted their nemesis North the critical try just before half-time.

Luther Burrell’s tackle on Tipuric dislodged the ball and North, who scored four tries in the reverse fixture at Franklin’s Gardens, scooped up the loose ball and ran in from halfway, with Myler adding the extras.

Saints pressed on early in the second half, knowing they were already halfway to a bonus point.

They thought prop Alex Waller had got their third as he tried to burrow his way over, but replays showed he was just short of the line.

However, the Ospreys lack of a forward platform was stunting their efforts to get back into the game, and Myler completed Northampton’s win with his second successful penalty.

Final Score Ospreys 9 (9) Northampton Saints 20 (17)

Scorers

Ospreys
Tries :
Pen : Biggar (3)
Con :
Drop :

Northampton Saints
Tries : Clark, North
Pen : Myler (2)
Con : Myler (2)
Drop :

Match Officials
Referee:
Jerome Garces (France),
Assistant ref: Patrick Pechambert (France),
Assistant ref: Jonathan Gasnier (France),
TMO: Jean-Marie Piraveau (France),
Citing Commissioner: Maurizio Vancini (Italy)

Teams

Ospreys: Daniel Evans; Aisea Natoga, Ashley Beck, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Marc Thomas, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Rynier Bernardo, Alun-Wyn Jones (c), James King, Justin Tipuric, Tyler Ardron

Replacements: Sam Parry, Gareth Thomas, Dmitri Arhip, Morgan Allen, Sam Lewis, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies , Hanno Dirksen

Northampton Saints: Ben Foden; Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Luther Burrell, George North; Steve Myler, Lee Dickson; Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley (c), Gareth Denman, Sam Dickinson, Christian Day, Tom Wood, Calum Clark, Samu Manoa

Replacements: Mikey Haywood, Ethan Waller, Alex Corbisiero, Phil Dowson, Teimana Harrison, Joel Hodgson, James Wilson, Jamie Elliott

With thanks to EPCRugby.

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