Rugby Union: Saints celebrate Shelford's return with rout of Scots: Northampton expose gulf between English and Scottish top divisions by running in eight tries

Northampton . . . . .55

Stirling County. . . .7

WAYNE SHELFORD made a guest appearance for Northampton and the crowd reacted as if it was the return of the conquering hero. The former All Black No 8, who said arrivederci to Northampton last season and is now employed as player-coach of Roma, stood out as the only man at Franklin's Gardens with suntanned legs.

His Christmas presence helped swell the gate to something in the region of 5,000 and under his captaincy the Saints ran in eight tries, a feast with all the trimmings bar one. Had this been a pantomime Shelford, on holiday in England, would surely have rounded things off with a try. He did not score but typically had a hand in most things.

Presumably Stirling attach more importance to Hogmanay. Whatever, they left Scotland at 6am for a seven-hour journey south and spent last night drowning their sorrows in Northampton. 'We helped them with their expenses,' a Northampton official said, with a knowing smile.

This was the second such game between the clubs and if it proved anything it is the yawning disparity in strength between the English First Division and the Scottish. Stirling, missing three players who will be on duty for Scotland A against Ireland tomorrow, asked Northampton not to field a weak side.

Northampton mixed it up a bit, adding some young faces to six regular members of the first-team squad. They still possessed far too much pace and guile for a club that has worked its way up from the Seventh Division to the First, where they currently occupy fourth place.

Northampton soon had a taste for the flavour of this match when Shelford elected to run a penalty and John Phillips, after a couple of mis-moves, ran through a gap in the four-man Northampton wall and straight through a totally bemused defence which was anything but sterling.

No sooner had Mark McKenzie jinked over to level the scores than Stirling were split asunder again after another example of sleight of hand and Ian Hunter scored at the posts. With England preferring a goalkicking specialist at full-back in Jonathan Callard, the talented Hunter may have a frustrating wait before adding to his handful of caps.

He nearly scored the try of the match in an 80-yard move which involved a quite brilliant kick and pick-up off his toes at full pace. However, he was held up inches short of the line. As it was there were several candidates and the honour probably went to Frank Packman, who rounded off an electric break from Matthew Foster.

Foster, the former Northampton youth captain, made a thoroughly satisfactory senior debut, helping himself to a try in the second half. The warmest cheers of a cold afternoon were, however, reserved for the man who came from the Eternal City to a club that seem to be eternally grateful for his contribution past and present.

Northampton: Tries Phillips 2, Hunter 2, Packman 2, Foster, Merlin; Conversions Hunter 6; Drop goal Packman. Stirling: Try McKenzie; Conversion McKenzie.

Northampton: I Hunter; K Morgan, M Foster, F Packman, H Thorneycroft; S Tubb (L Ilott, 60), R Rees; M Vollands, A Clarke, G Pearce, J Phillips (G Webster, 67), N Edwards, D Merlin, W Shelford (capt), P Pask.

Stirling County: R Mailer (A Logan, 18); S Crawford, J Wright, M McGrandles, A Turner; M McKenzie, K Harper (D Bryce, 65); J Gibson, G Rutherford, B Robertson, S Hamilton (capt), M Norval, G Flockhart, J Brough, B Ireland.

Referee: T Sparks (Warwickshire).

(Photograph omitted)

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003