Northampton Saints hold on for Scarlets victory

Ken Pisi scored Northampton's opening try

Northampton Saints had to hold on for a 15-11 European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 victory over the Scarlets at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday evening.

Northampton outscored the Scarlets by two tries to one but the Saints had to hold to the death as Steven Shingler outkicked JJ Hanrahan , on his first start for his new club, by two penalties to one.

Wing Pisi opened the scoring early on, with prop Waller burrowing over after the break for the Saints who put their tough start to the domestic season behind them.

The Scarlets kept themselves in contention with a try from in-form scrum-half Gareth Davies and the two penalties from fly-half Shingler as they collected a losing bonus point which may yet prove valuable.

The Scarlets have been among the early-season pacesetters in the Guinness Pro 12 but they endured an uncomfortable start as the Saints pack took it to them. One rolling maul rumbled the visitors back 20 metres, while the Welsh side’s scrum creaked worryingly.

Northampton made full use of the ascendancy by crafting the opening try. Hanrahan ran a lovely loop play in midfield and Pisi raced onto his pass to skate over, with the Irishman adding the extras.

The Scarlets slowly began to find their feet, with DTH van der Merwe making a break to force a penalty, which was kicked by Shingler.

Northampton thought they had scored their second try at the end of the first quarter when Luther Burrell finished a superb counter-attack off turnover ball, with Pisi, Ben Foden and George North involved.

However, the try was ruled out after North struck Michael Tagicakibau with his foot in the build-up and was sent to the sin bin against his former team.

The visitors failed to make the most of the numerical advantage and they could have come off worse during the 10 minutes had Hanrahan not failed with two long-range penalties.

Instead Shingler made amends for an earlier miss by adding his second penalty just before half-time to trim the deficit to a single point.

The fly-half was wide and short with a long-range attempt early in the second half, before his loose pass ended a promising Scarlets attack.

But the Welsh outfit were growing in confidence and they seized the lead through arch-poacher Davies. Hadleigh Parkes and Aled Thomas linked well in midfield and the crum-half burst through to dot down.

Shingler hit the easy conversion against the upright and the visitors’ lead did not last long as Northampton went straight up the other end and rolled their way over from a driving line-out with Waller the man to ground the ball.

Hanrahan failed to draw round the testing touchline conversion and Northampton’s cause was not helped when flanker Jamie Gibson became their second man in the bin after not rolling away at the tackle area.

Hanrahan extended their lead with his first successful penalty after another dominant Northampton scrum, and it proved enough to secure the four points.

Saints forward Tom Wood was named European Rugby Champions Cup man of the match.

Final Score Northampton Saints 15 (7) Scarlets 11 (6)


Northampton Saints
Tries – K.Pisi, Waller
Pen – Hanrahan
Con – Hanrahan
Drop –

Tries – G.Davies
Pen – Shingler (2)
Con –
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Romain Poite (France),
Assistant ref: Tual Trainini (France),
Assistant ref: Pierre Brousset (France),
TMO: Eric Gonthier (France),
Citing Commissioner: Murray Whyte (Ireland)


Northampton Saints: Ben Foden; Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Luther Burrell, George North; JJ Hanrahan, Lee Dickson (c); Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood, Kieran Brookes, James Craig, Christian Day, Jamie Gibson, Tom Wood, Sam Dickinson

Replacements: Matti Williams, Ethan Waller, Paul Hill, Michael Paterson, Teimana Harrison, Kahn Fotuali’i, Steve Myler, Ah See Tuala

Scarlets: Aled Thomas; Michael Tagicakibau, Gareth Owen, Hadleigh Parkes, DTH van der Merwe; Steven Shingler, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips, Peter Edwards, Jake Ball, Maselno Paulino, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay (c)

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Phil John, Will Taylor, Tom Price, Lewis Rawlins, Aled Davies, Regan King, Tom Williams

With thanks to EPC Rugby

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