Cueto's try puts poor Saints in the mire

Northampton 6 - Sale 23
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Alan Solomons must wish that he could call on the wisdom of his biblical near-namesake as he attempts to halt Northampton's worst Premiership run for five seasons. Much more of this will leave Saints with a crisis on their hands.

Alan Solomons must wish that he could call on the wisdom of his biblical near-namesake as he attempts to halt Northampton's worst Premiership run for five seasons. Much more of this will leave Saints with a crisis on their hands.

Things were looking bleak when, with the last roll of the dice, Shane Drahm drilled a kick across the field for the unmarked Ben Cohen. But Mark Cueto, one of the cutest finishers in the game, anticipated the move, out-jumped Cohen and ran in a spectacular try from almost 90 metres. With both teams ending with 14 men, 35 minutes of uncontested scrums and almost 18 minutes of stoppage time, it was a game with everything except polished rugby. At least by scoring the only two tries of the afternoon Sale continued to blaze away in their best ever start to a Premiership campaign.

Solomons rang the changes against Sale, who have surprised everyone, including themselves, with their form. Solomons' intention to drop Drahm to the bench was scuppered when John Clarke suffered a knee injury in training, and Cohen was recalled after losing form.

Saints were disrupted further when Steve Thompson and Matt Lord left the fray for treatment, though by then Charlie Hodgson had kicked one penalty and, by the time Lord returned, Hodgson had struck again to make it 6-0. Drahm pulled back three points after Sébastien Bruno was sent to the sin-bin for a gratuitous punch on Robbie Kempson, but as the match entered its second quarter the force was still with Sale as Hodgson banged over another long-range penalty.

The gigantic Sale prop Andrew Sheridan got the first try after a line-out and drive. Hodgson converted, and Drahm's second penalty brought it to 16-6 at the break.

With props and hookers falling like flies, and a mass of replacements throughout the second half, which was on the distinctly poor side of dreadful, would there be a score of any sort? Not if Northampton had their way.

They were incapable of creating anything which resembled a score. That was not a charge which could be levelled at Cueto, who stole the show and was made man-of-the-match

Northampton: S Drahm (B Patston, 82); W Human, M Stcherbina, C Hyndman (M Tucker, 72), B Cohen; B Reihana, M Robinson (J Howard, 80); T Smith, S Thompson (D Richmond, 8), R Kempson (R Morris, 18; G Seely, 48), S Boome, M Lord (D Browne (6-15, 57-64, 76), D Fox, A Blowers (Seely, 37-44), C Krige (capt).

Sale: J Robinson (capt); M Cueto, J Taumalolo (C Rhys Jones, 44), R Todd, J Moore (M Hercus, 61); C Hodgson, S Martens (B Redpath, 77); A Sheridan (B Stewart, 80), S Bruno, S Turner (A Titterrell, 58), C Jones, D Schofield (C Day, 52), J White (A Titterrell, 21-31; P Anglesea 76), S Chabal, M Lund.

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).

Comments