Rugby Union: Lam leads Saints' march

London Scottish 22 Northampton 33
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THE DIFFERENCE between being championship contenders and also- rans is the ability to win away from home. For Northampton, it may be the ability to win away from home and from The Stoop.

The Saints recorded their first away win in the league since January when they defeated London Scottish on the scene of their last triumph on the road, over Harlequins ten months ago. But they had to work for a victory which seemed to be comfortably in their grasp at half-time but which was sealed only by a try in the last seconds.

Scottish defended doggedly throughout an opening half in which they were largely on the back foot, yet Northampton's ability to recycle possession and their own willingness to loiter off-side cost them. And when they did score through Iain McAusland they were trumped by the visitors' reply.

Although without Tim Rodber, the Northampton pack showed few early signs of missing their captain, particularly in a back row who were involved in much of their best work.

Both Pat Lam and Budge Pountney were involved in the build up to the Saints' first try, scored by Matt Allen after his team had driven to the line in reply to McAusland's opening penalty.

The full-back responded with another three points but from the restart Northampton replied in spades. David Dantiacq pounced on a loose ball and fed Don MacKinnon who went over at the posts.

McAusland and Paul Grayson then exchanged penalties before the Scottish cause suffered a further setback when Guy Manson-Bishop was sent to the sin-bin on 25 minutes for a high tackle on Matt Dawson.

Grayson added two more penalties but Scottish steadied their ship and replied after the break, Eddie Jones crashing over at a line out.

The full-back then hauled Scottish back into contention with a penalty, only for Northampton to stretch their legs. Lam burst off the back of a scrum and surged 30 yards for a try in the corner.

McAusland kept Scottish in the hunt with another penalty for offside, but Northampton had the final word via replacement full back Ali Hepher had enough room to seal victory.

London Scottish: I McAusland; K Milligan, R Davies, J Bonney (R Eriksson, 52), C Sharman; S Binns, G Easterby; P Johnstone, J McLellan (P Robertson, 77), P Burnell (M MacDonald, 74), E Jones, M Watson (M McAtamney, 60), S Fenn (C Tarbuck, 40), S Holmes, G Manson-Bishop.

Northampton: N Beal (A Hepher, 14); C Moir, D Dantiacq, M Allen, J Sleightholme; P Grayson, M Dawson; G Pagel, F Mendez, M Hynes (M Volland, 66), R Metcalfe (S Hepher, 40), J Phillips, D Mackinnon (G Seely, 66), B Pountney, P Lam.

Referee: C Reeks (Somerset).