Saints on the up after vital try by Downey

Edinburgh 27 Northampton Saints 31: Northampton centre's timely score helps rein in free-running Edinburgh.

Northampton may have been overshadowed by their free-running hosts but they are developing a knack of grinding out important wins in the Heineken Cup. Having misfired but still won at home to Castres a week earlier, they secured four potentially crucial points here.

The Saints captain, Dylan Hartley, gave his team a great start, scoring from a line-out drive after seven minutes. But they were then left rocking by tries from Allan Jacobsen, Netani Talei and Ben Cairns. James Downey's subsequent try, on the stroke of half-time, could yet prove the most important of their European campaign.

Saints were 24-13 down and Edinburgh were threatening to run them off the pitch when Downey touched down in the corner. Stephen Myler missed the conversion but the try had knocked the wind out of Edinburgh's sails.

Northampton's coach, Jim Mallinder, said: "It's a very pleasing win because this isn't an easy competition. We didn't play well last week but we got a win, now we have come to Edinburgh, played a lot better and got a hard-fought win that takes us top of the pool [Pool One]. We're in a good position."

How refreshing it was to see two teams committed to playing rugby. There was so much resting on this match yet neither side was shackled by pressure or inhibited by fear. Edinburgh led the way in a blistering first half, stretching Saints at every chance and with great success. They scored three handsome tries including a near length-of-the-field effort that was finished by Talei. However, all that provoked an emphatic response from Northampton, who clawed their way back and then took the lead through Myler's conversion of Paul Diggin's 52nd-minute try. Myler was successful with six of seven kicks and finished with 16 points.

Northampton got to grips with Edinburgh in the final 20 minutes. Greig Tonks just managed to nudge Talei into touch before the Fijian No8 slipped what would have been a scoring pass inside and the flanker Tom Wood came up with a telling turnover in his own 22. Courtney Lawes then left Talei seeing stars after a bruising head-on challenge.

Mallinder said: "Our attacking game was very good but we were defensively weak in the first half. We stood off tackles and allowed Edinburgh to score some good tries. At times it looked as if they were able to score tries at will. We had to tighten up and we were far more solid in the second half. We put in some good tackles to stop their offload game and we always knew our attacking game was good enough to win."

The uncapped Fraser McKenzie, a 6ft 6in converted flanker, was at the heart of everything good for Edinburgh as he stretched his long legs on the Murrayfield turf. His break, aided by the scrum-half Mike Blair, ended with Jacobsen scoring his second try of the tournament, under the posts and not long after Hartley's opener. McKenzie was also involved in Edinburgh's second try. From a turnover, the lock combined several times with David and Mike Blair, Chris Paterson supported and Talei touched down in the corner.

Myler kept Saints in touch with a second penalty but they could not contain McKenzie, who provided a delightful offload to Paterson before Alan MacDonald delivered a scoring pass to Cairns. However, Saints stayed in control up front to reduce the deficit first with a penalty and then, following thrusts from Roger Wilson and Phil Dowson, Downey's timely try.

Paterson re-established a six-point lead but Northampton's power in the scrum led Talei to fumble the ball into the hands of Phil Dowson, yards from his own line, and Diggin finished in the corner.

Edinburgh: C Paterson; J Thompson, B Cairns, J King, T Visser; D Blair, M Blair (G Laidlaw, 70); A Jacobsen (K Traynor, 65), R Ford (A Kelly, 65), G Cross (D Young, 61), S MacLeod (C Hamilton, 61), F McKenzie, A MacDonald, N Talei, R Grant (capt).

Northampton Saints: G Tonks, C Ashton, J Clarke (J Ansbro, 72), J Downey, P Diggin, S Myler, L Dickson (R Powell, 62), S Tongauiha, D Hartley (capt), B Mujati (E Murray, 55), C Lawes, C Day (M Sorenson, 72), P Dowson, R Wilson, T Wood (C Clarke, 70).

Referee: J Garces (France).

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits