Saints shine against Bristol
October 4, 2008
Northampton's Soane Tonga'uiha on the rampage at Franklin's Gardens © Getty Images
Northampton struck the first blow in their rivalry with Bristol this season - despite a dream debut by Mathew Turner.
They meet each other five times this season - including twice in the European Challenge Cup - and Northampton drew first blood by running in four tries in today's EDF Energy Cup clash. The 30-17 success stretched Northampton's unbeaten run at home to 20 games and piled on the misery for Bristol, who have now lost all six games this season.
Referee Nigel Owens dished out five yellow cards and Bristol were down to 13 men early in the second half. They went on to have an advantage of 14 players to 13 following the sin-binning of Northampton pair Joe Gray and Ben Broster and Bristol prop Mark Irish in the 64th minute - but the visitors could not find a way back into the game.
Bristol head coach Richard Hill took plenty of positives from his side's performance, however. He saw Turner score two tries on his debut to put Bristol 10-5 ahead before Northampton hit back with 22 unanswered points.
Hill said: "Things are picking up. We aren't playing terribly, but we are shooting ourselves in the foot. The story of our season is that we tend to let the other team score within about 15 seconds of getting the ball. We tend to kick deep, they counter-attack and within 15 seconds, they are under our posts.
"That is killing us at the moment. We defended well with 13 men, then missed touch and they scored a try in he corner.''
He added: "I was delighted with Mathew Turner. He has only had two training sessions with us and went on to score tries on both wings and make a try-saving tackle. He was spotted playing on the sevens circuit and I was told he was special, so we moved quickly."
Both sides made massive changes after midweek defeats and Northampton out scored Bristol four tries to three with their scores coming from Paul Diggin, Lee Dickson, Chris Ashton and Chris Mayor.
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder said: "We were a bit flat in the first half and we talked at half-time about picking up the tempo. It was a chance to have a look at a few players and I was very pleased with the way we played and to get a bonus point."
© PA Sport
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter