Having denied the Reivers possession for long periods in the first match at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton were looking to repeat their domination of this aspect of play in the return game at a bitterly cold Myreside, in Edinburgh last night. Not only did they do so, but Saints outplayed and out thought Reivers in every other key area.
Reivers also needed to minimise the effectiveness of a Saints' scrummage, lacking the potency of Tim Rodber and Martin Scelzo as well as being affected by the late withdrawal of Richard Metcalfe with a neck-muscle strain. In the opening 10 minutes, there were sure signs that the Edinburgh forwards were going to have it all to do if they were going to win the battle of the packs. They finished a distant second.
Nick Beal had taken Saints to within a few metres of the home line, only for Pat Lam to be held up. From the ensuing scrum, Edinburgh were reversed over the line for the hooker Stephen Walter to claim the touchdown. Edinburgh managed to halt the next Saints' attack, when Lam was denied a try by a shuddering tackle by Iain Sinclair.
But the following sortie bore fruit. Walter was again in the thick of it, passing for Alastair Hepher to score. By now Northampton were moving the ball with speed and variety, and Reivers had nowhere to hide when Allan Bateman cut them open for a sumptuous try. Matt Dawson converted all three, before scoring a smart effort himself, which he also goaled. When Jon Sleightholme raced into the corner for Saints' fifth try of the half, Reivers had only Duncan Hodge's penalty to their name.
Reivers did eventually score a try, when Conan Sharman scrambled across, but by then Dawson had collected two more tries, both of which he converted. All that remained was the inevitable flurry of replacements as Saints strolled to their most emphatic win of this season's European trail, which leaves them sitting alone at the top of Pool Six, with a place in the quarter-finals firmly in their sights.
Edinburgh Reivers: Try Sharman. Penalty Hodge. Northampton: Tries Dawson 3, Sleightholme, Walter, Hepher, Bateman. Conversions Dawson 6.
Edinburgh Reivers: Lee; C Murray, A Tait (C Patterson, 53), G Shiel (capt), C Sharman; D Hodge, I Fairley (G Burns, 64); B Stewart, S Scott, M Proudfoot, N Hines (A Lucking, 47), I Fullarton, C Mather, I Sinclair, M. Leslie.
Northhampton: N Beal (J Sleightholme, 46); C Moir(J Sleightholme, 33- 44), A Bateman (M Tucker, 53), M Allen (A Norley, 69), B Cohen (D Malone, 78); A Hepher, M Dawson (J Bramhall, 64); G Pagel (M Volland, h-t), S Walter, F Mendez, J Phillips, A Newman, D Mackinnon, B Poutney (C Johnson, 49-51), P Lam (capt).
Referee: A Lewis (Ireland).Reuse content