Wood scores on Saints comeback
August 18, 2012
Tom Wood was back in action for the Northampton Saints © Getty Images
Northampton Saints smashed Heineken Cup holders Leinster 43-0 at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Leinster fielded a team with a blend of youth and experience but they were powerless to prevent the Saints running away with the win. Tries from new signing Dom Waldouck, Paul Diggin, Vasily Artemyev, Scott Armstrong, Tom Wood, Tom May and Noah Cato gave the Franklin's Gardens outfit a conclusive win.
Wood's try got the biggest cheer of the afternoon and Saints coach Paul Grayson was delighted to see the England flanker back on the field. "It's been a while for him and hopefully he's come through that okay because he'll be desperate to get his rugby playing career back on track," Grayson told reporters. "It's been a long time since he's played and we've got great support here. They understand their rugby, they understand when players have had adversity and they always welcome them back.
"He's played 20 minutes of rugby in how ever many months it is so it's small steps really for Tom and we'll see how he responds."
Elsewhere, Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins got their pre-season back on track with two wins at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday. In the first match of the double-header, they dispatched London Scottish 42-21 with their tries coming from Seb Stegmann, Henry Taylor, Jordan Burns, Charlie Matthews and a brace from Darryl Marfo. Match two saw them face RaboDirect PRO12 side Connacht and the first-half saw three yellow cards - one for Connacht's Miah Nikora and one apiece for Luke Wallace and Nick Evans.
This did not prevent Harlequins from running away with the game, however, with Evans, Nick Easter, George Lowe, Sam Smith, Danny Care all going over the line. Fullback Ross Chisholm also added a brace.
Danny Cipriani made his Sale Sharks debut on Saturday as they overcame Scottish side Glasgow Warriors 49-27 in Mark Cueto's testimonial. Richie Vernon, Tom Brady, Tony Buckley, Dave Seymour, Rob Miller, new signing Corne Uys and Dwayne Peel all scored for Sale. Glasgow's tries came through Peter Murchie, Tommy Seymour and Peter Horne.
Glasgow's PRO12 rivals Ulster drew 14-14 with Leicester Tigers in a physical encounter at Ravenhill. Ulster scored a penalty try in the first-half but efforts from Vereniki Goneva and Thomas Waldrom put Leicester in the lead. Their joy proved to be short lived, however, with Chris Cochrane scoring a sensational solo effort to draw the game level.
In other action on Saturday, Bath beat the Ospreys 21-10. Lee Mears and Dan Hipkiss crossed for Bath while Tom Graham scored for the home side. Their rivals Gloucester also won against Welsh opposition as they downed the Cardiff Blues 20-8. Billy Twelvetrees and a penalty try brought up Gloucester's score with Harry Robinson crossing for the Blues.
Fellow Welsh side the Scarlets travelled to Sixways to face the Worcester Warriors and lost 22-7. Josh Matavesi scored twice for Richard Hill's side with Ben Howard also going over. The Scarlets' solitary try came from Nick Reynolds.
The final match on Saturday saw the Exeter Chiefs ease past fellow south west side the Cornish Pirates. Samoan international Josh Tatupu grabbed a first half double, as did summer signing Will Chudley, with Ben White, Kai Horstmann, Jack Nowell and Mark Foster also scoring for Rob Baxter's side.
On Friday, Chris Ashton made his Saracens bow in Italy, although the England winger could not prevent a 14-11 pre-season loss to Benetton Treviso.
Chris Ashton made his debut for Saracens © Getty Images
A try from England Under-20 scrum-half Ben Spencer had looked like the winning score until late on, when Simone Favaro scored a breakaway try to seal victory for the RaboDirect PRO12 side.
London Irish also tasted defeat, losing 18-12 to the Dragons at Rodney Parade. Steffan Jones and Adam Hughes crossed for the hosts, who had the boot of former Wales wing Tom Prydie to thank for their remaining points.
A strong Exiles side - marshalled by Shane Geraghty and Tomas O'Leary at halfback - managed four penalties, three from Scott Shingler and another from Tom Homer.
Wasps shook off a tight first-half to thump Leeds 50-23 at Headingley, scoring eight tries in the process.
England flanker James Haskell made his Wasps comeback off the bench, while Tom Varndell, Joe Simpson, Joe Launchbury, Chris Mayor, Billy Vunipola, Christian Wade and new signings Stephen Jones and Andrea Masi all crossed.
Munster picked up a comfortable 24-9 victory over Bristol at Musgrave Park in the first of two home pre-season fixtures for Rob Penney's side.
Dave Kilcoyne, Duncan Williams and Sean Scanlon crossed to seal victory, with new signing Casey Laulala turning in a couple of memorable tackles.
Edinburgh did not get their pre-season underway in the desired fashion, losing 21-3 to Championship side Newcastle at Kingston Park. Michael Bradley's men produced only one penalty - to Harry Leonard - with Oliver Tomaszczyk and Phil Vickers bagging tries for the home side either side of 11 points from Jimmy Gopperth.
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