Cohen's score seals vital win for Saints

Glasgow 9 - Northampton 13
Click to follow
The Independent Online

They say that travel broadens the mind; if true, the Heineken Cup certainly takes players and spectators to some interesting places. Hughenden may not possess the charms of Biarritz's Parc des Sports Aguiléra but, set among the mock Georgian terraces and Victorian mansions of a genteel suburb of Glasgow, it is not without a certain appeal. Though when an injury-hit Northampton side arrived , they must have thought they were in for an afternoon of kick-and-rush rugby. They were.

They say that travel broadens the mind; if true, the Heineken Cup certainly takes players and spectators to some interesting places. Hughenden may not possess the charms of Biarritz's Parc des Sports Aguiléra but, set among the mock Georgian terraces and Victorian mansions of a genteel suburb of Glasgow, it is not without a certain appeal. Though when an injury-hit Northampton side arrived , they must have thought they were in for an afternoon of kick-and-rush rugby. They were.

So much rain had fallen that it seemed inadvisable to allow the obligatory troupe of dancing girls to strut their stuff before kick-off. Without proper supervision there was a danger that one or two of them might have drowned. Given Saints' five-match losing Premiership run, water was the last thing they wanted. A few stiff scotches would have been provided more enjoyable sustenance; with Shane Drahm on hand to measure out the golden stuff.

Pool Three hardly looks the most difficult group, though neither Glasgow nor Saints, the winners in 2000, are likely to trouble Toulouse. And if Llanelli have been uplifted by their performance against last season's finalists on Friday, Northampton will not relish the Scarlets' visit to Franklin's Gardens on Saturday any more than Glasgow will expect to get much out of their trip to the south of France.

Though as Alan Solomons, Northampton's coach, said: "So many things have been going against us, but this could be a turning point. In the Heineken you have to win your home matches and try and get two wins on the road. So we've started well. Despite the weather being against us, we had the edge up front and just deserved to win."

They did. But Glasgow set Saints all sorts of problems to add to those they created for themselves. It wasn't until deep into the second half that Northampton began to get it tactically right. Instead of attempting to play dry-weather rugby they kicked for position, and waited for Glasgow to make mistakes and Drahm to bury the Scots with penalties. If that strategy didn't work exactly as planned, at least they kept Glasgow in their own half.

Before the pitch really cut up, Northampton cut the Glasgow defence apart with a stunning try. Chris Budgen, who was standing in for the injured Tom Smith, took a difficult pass with all the aplomb of a gifted centre, spun out of Jon Petrie's ineffectual tackle and fed Marc Stcherbina, whose delayed pass gave Ben Cohen the narrowest of gaps to grab the try. Drahm converted. Saints were unable to build on that promising opening and Dan Parks' two penalties reduced their lead to 7-6 at the break.

On days like this decision-making is important, and Drahm and Mark Robinson were guilty of kicking too short. Two Drahm penalties made Saints' day - despite Parks' late kick - though Darren Fox, who was sin-binned after 12 minutes, could face disciplinary action for an alleged head-butt.

Northampton: Try Cohen; Conversion Drahm; Penalties Drahm 2. Glasgow: Penalties Parks 3.

Glasgow: R Kerr (C Howarth, 71); S Lamont, G Morrison, A Henderson, K Logan; D Parks, S Pinder (G Beveridge, 75); K Tkachuk (A Kelly, 22-31), G Bulloch, L Harrison (Kelly, 71), A Hall (A Wilson, 75), D Turner, C Mather, J Petrie (capt), D Macfadyen.

Northampton: B Reihana; J Rudd (W Human, 53), M Stcherbina, C Hyndman, B Cohen; S Drahm, M Robinson; C Budgen, D Richmond, R Kempson, M Lord, D Browne, D Fox, A Blowers (G Seely, 76), C Krige (capt).

Referee: E Darriere (France).

Comments