Borders 19 Northampton 29: Borders grounded by Cohen's quick double
Monday 15 January 2007
Northampton boosted their hopes of a place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup with a solid bonus-point win over the Borders in a match switched from storm-lashed Netherdale to Murrayfield at very short notice. The Saints now face Biarritz at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday to decide who will progress as winners of Pool Six.
The referee, George Clancy of Ireland, was of the opinion that the Gala ground was unplayable. The Northampton coach, Paul Grayson, was in agreement, so the game moved to Edinburgh and the Northampton players, not to mention the supporters who had an extra 100 miles to travel, would not be at home until at least midnight.
The Borders coach, Steve Bates, argued that his side would be deprived of home advantage and that his ground was playable.
Peter Brown, the citing commissioner for the match, also inspected the pitch. "In the final analysis the referee decides, but I have seen far worse here and almost everywhere else," said the former Scotland captain, who had a long career with Gala.
Either way, the decisions reflect poorly on rugby in Scotland and the referee. Would the decision have been made if Sky had been televising the game?.
Eventually, after a 5pm kick-off in the capital, the Borders hooker Ross Ford scored a smart try in the left corner. Calum MacRae failed with the conversion. The Kiwi flanker Paul Tupai, who is making something of a name for himself at Franklin's Gardens, grabbed a try back, which Carlos Spencer converted before adding a penalty.
Simon Danielli, with an alert interception on the right touchline, sped away for a surprise try at the posts to put the Borders level, and this time MacRae converted for a 12-10 lead, though he missed with a subsequent penalty.
With half-time approaching the full-back Paul Diggin scored a second try for Northampton. Spencer added the points, so at half-time it was 17-12 to the English club.
Ben Cohen, the Saints winger who is in the England Saxons squad and who has not scored a try for Northampton since injury in October, snaffled two cracking touchdowns at the start of the second half.
For the first, he showed a flash of remarkable pace to score at the posts. Spencer converted. His next try, which added a bonus point, was not converted.
MacRae then received a terrific pass from Gregor Townsend and converted his own score. Although the Borders then played some attacking rugby, with the lock Stuart Grimes to the fore, they could find no way breach the Northampton defence.
Borders: Tries Ford, Danielli, MacRae; Conversions MacRae 2. Northampton: Tries Tupai, Diggin, Cohen 2; Conversions Spencer 3; Penalty Spencer.
Borders: C MacRae (capt); S Danielli, G Law, B Rennie, (S Jones, 25), B Daniel (M Robertson, 12); G Townsend, R Christie; G Kerr (E Calman, 40), R Ford, B Douglas, S Grimes, O'Paepoi (R Vernon, 73), S Newlands, (J Dalziel, 48), A Miller, K Brown.
Northampton: P Diggin, (R Laird, 74); S Lamont, B Cohen, R Kydd, J Howard; C Spencer, M Robinson; T Smith, S Thompson, (capt; D Hartley, 63), P Barnard, C Short, D Gerard (M Lord, 63), P Tupai (C Budgen, 33-40), D Fox, (B Lewitt, 63), D Brown (M Easter, 80).
Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Mike Tyson branded 'superhero' after a surprise good turn
Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser
Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study
Want to ward off (or welcome) trick-or-treaters? Here's how
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
Sami Khedira transfer news: Arsenal can win the Premier League if they sign Khedira in January, says Perry Groves
Paul Scholes: At last! Some credit for Sam Allardyce
EXCLUSIVE: F1 heading for eastern revolution as new team emerges from Romania
Impressive Kurt Zouma may save Chelsea millions by replacing John Terry
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything