Saints down London Irish and keep on marching

Northampton Saints continued their excellent form by knocking over the Exiles 24-22 at Franklin’s Gardens largely thanks to Shane Geraghty converted Chris Ashton’s last-minute try.


The result puts Northampton one point behind Saracens who suffered their second defeat of the season – this time at home against Leicester Tigers.


London Irish would have moved to level with Saracens but are now three points behind Saracens on 37 points which is one point ahead of Leicester who are in fourth place.


London Irish were leading with 11 minutes remaining after Chris Malone slotted a drop goal – he also nailed five shots from five at goal.


Northampton kept at it and Geraghty knocked over a penalty before Chris Ashton scored a last minute try which with the last kick of the game Geraghty converted and won the match.


At the half-time break the visitors led 9-6 with Chris Malone and Stephen Myler having traded penalties throughout the half, with Myler kicking two to Malone’s three.


Phil Dowson scored the first try for the Saints in the 42nd minute before Peter Hewat ran one over for London Irish in the 57th.


The victory was Saints ninth straight victory since October.


“We want this to be a difficult place to win for visitors, and nobody has won here in the league this season.” Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder told the BBC after the match.


“Chris (Ashton) is a natural finisher whose game is improving at this level with every outing. He got one chance and scored in front of the England coaches (Brian Smith and John Wells).


“Personally, the intercept try we conceded was disappointing, although I won’t criticise the decision-making that went before it.”


London Irish head coach Toby Booth said, “It is always a cruel way to lose, and I feel we did not get the rub of the green in the 50-50 decisions, but then that’s not unusual away from home.


“The last scrum interests me since we drove them five yards yet they got the put-in. I’ll be looking closely at that one. I’ll also study the try, but in reality, it was scored and it’s history.


“There are a lot of similarities between the teams, both like to play positively, with width and tempo. And when you have a lad like Ashton you can always turn things round.


“We kept him quiet until the last 20 seconds, but that is the sign of a genuine finisher – one chance, one try.”

Final Score Northampton Saints (6) 24 London Irish (9) 22


Northampton Saints
Tries: Dowson, Ashton
Con: Geraghty
Pen: Myler 3, Geraghty

London Irish
Try: Hewat
Con: Malone
Pen: Malone 4
Drop: Malone

Ref: S Davey (RFU).

Att: 13,457


Northampton: Foden; Ashton, Clarke, Downey, Diggin; Myler, Dickson; Tonga’uiha, Hartley (capt), Murray, I Fernandez Lobbe, Kruger, Lawes, Dowson, Wilson.

Replacements: Best , Geraghty , Mayor, Sharman, Vickers, Mujati, Day, Dickens.

London Irish: D Armitage; Homer, Seveali’i, Mapusua, Hewat; Malone, Hodgson; Dermody, Paice, Ion, Kennedy, Casey, Roche, S Armitage, Hala’Ufia

Replacements:Murphy , Rautenbach, Perry , Coetzee, Fisher, Ojo, Lamb, Lalanne.

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