Rugby Union: Shelford marches on

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The Independent Online
Northampton. . . . .21

Harlequins . . . . .16

SUFFERING SAINTS used to be up for grabs but now, like the words from the song, they enjoy marching in. Last season, for the first time in their history, Northampton topped 1,000 points and on Tuesday they headed off in that direction again by opening the new campaign with a 76-0 home win over Rugby. .

Quins lost at Northampton in a League visit in January. Yesterday, hit hardest by England squad calls and injuries, they were on the receiving end again, two tries to one.

Making a difference, and a big one in this friendly, was Wayne Shelford. The great All Black may look a bit of a porker at the moment but with Quins 11 short of a full first-team set, he threw his weight around to great effect.

But Harlequins kept pretty much in contact and with Bob Templeton, the Wallabies' assistant coach, helping out at The Stoop you could not possibly write them off at this early stage.

The real test starts on Saturday week when the League gets underway, with Northampton at home to Bristol and Quins away to the champions, Bath.

Yesterday, it was all square after 25 minutes, John Steele's two penalties matched by Stuart Thresher's. Come half time, though, in a vigorously contested match, it was the Saints who made the initial positive move. Shelford stood off a ruck and his overhead pass was transmitted via the exciting newcomer Nick Beal and Harvey Thorneycroft to Rob MacNaughton for a try.

Then, deep in the second half, a one-two between Brett Taylor and Shelford led to a try for Phil Pask. Saints always looked winners, though Quins cheered themselves up when Chris Sheasby arrived in support of Mike Wedderburn for a closing try.

Northampton: J Griffiths; F Packman, N Beal, R MacNaughton, H Thorneycroft; J Steele (capt), B Taylor; C Allen, P Roworth, G Pearce, J Etheridge, D Jones, P Walton, W Shelford, P Pask.

Harlequins: S Thresher; M Wedderburn, G Thompson, M Eans, E Davis; P Challiner, B Short; M Hobley, N Killick, M Pratley, P Thresher, S Dear, M Russell, C Sheasby, A Fox (capt).

Referee: L Bryant (Bristol).

Scorers: Steele (pen, 3 min) 3-0; S Thresher (pen, 18) 3-3; S Thresher (pen, 25) 3-6; Steele (pen, 32) 6-6; MacNaughton/Steele (try/con, 39) 13-6; Pask (try/con, 69) 18-6; S Thresher (pen, 71) 18-9; Sheasby/Thresher (try/con 75) 18-16; Steele (pen, 79) 21-16.

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