Dawson leads rout by Saints

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The Independent Online

Only one Scottish club has tasted victory over an English club in the four years of the European Cup and Shield, but Glasgow Caledonians' defeat of Leicester last Sunday at Perth has brought increased anticipation. However, Edinburgh Reivers' hopes of emulating Glasgow were destroyed by an ebullient Northampton, who ran in seven tries during an exhilarating exhibition of free-flowing rugby.

Only one Scottish club has tasted victory over an English club in the four years of the European Cup and Shield, but Glasgow Caledonians' defeat of Leicester last Sunday at Perth has brought increased anticipation. However, Edinburgh Reivers' hopes of emulating Glasgow were destroyed by an ebullient Northampton, who ran in seven tries during an exhilarating exhibition of free-flowing rugby.

Having denied Reivers possession for long periods in the first match at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton were looking to repeat their domination of this aspect of play in the return game on a bitterly cold night in Edinburgh.

Not only did they do so, but Saints outplayed and outfought Reivers in every other key area.

Reivers also needed to minimise the effectiveness of a Saints' scrummage, lacking the potency of Tim Rodber and Martin Scelzo as well as the late withdrawal of Richard Metcalfe with a neck-muscle strain. But within the opening 10 minutes, there were sure signs that the Edinburgh forwards were going to have it all to do if they were to win the battle of the packs.

Nick Beal had taken Saints to within a few metres of the home line, over which Pat Lam was eventually held up. From the ensuing scrum, Edinburgh were reversed over their line for the hooker, Stephen Walter, to claim the touchdown. Edinburgh managed to halt the next Saints' attack, when Lam was denied a try by a shuddering tackle from Iain Sinclair. But the following sortie bore fruit. Walter was again in the thick of it, handing the scoring pass to Alistair Hepher. By now Northampton were moving the ball with impressive speed and variety, and Reivers had nowhere to hide when Allan Bateman cut them open for a sumptuous try. Matt Dawson converted all three, before scoring a smart try himself, which he also goaled. When Jon Sleightholme raced into the right corner for Northampton's fifth try of the half, Reivers had only Duncan Hodge's penalty to their name.

Reivers did eventually score a try, when Conan Sharman scrambled over, but by then Dawson had collected two more tries, both of which he converted. All that remained was the inevitably flurry of replacements as Saints strolled to their most emphatic win on this season's European trail, which leaves them sitting alone at the top of Pool Six, with a place in the quarter-finals firmly in their sights.

Edinburgh Reivers: Try Sharman. Penalty Hodge. Northampton: Tries Dawson 3, Sleightholme, Walter, Hepher, Bateman. Conversions Dawson 6.

Edinburgh Reivers: Lee; C Murray, A Tait (C Patterson, 53), G Shiel (capt), C Sharman; D Hodge, I Fairley (G Burns, 64); B Stewart, S Scott, M Proudfoot, N Hines (A Lucking, 47), I Fullarton, C Mather, I Sinclair, M. Leslie.

Northhampton: N Beal (J Sleightholme, 46); C Moir(J Sleightholme, 33-44), A Bateman (M Tucker, 53), M Allen (A Norley, 69), B Cohen (D Malone, 78); A Hepher, M Dawson (J Bramhall, 64); G Pagel (M Volland, h-t), S Walter, F Mendez, J Phillips, A Newman, D Mackinnon, B Poutney (C Johnson, 49-51), P Lam (capt).

Referee: A Lewis (Ireland).

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