New-look Saints show their tribal instincts

Northampton 29 - Bath 14
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Everyone has been talking of the proposed "London Tribe", the squad of South African exiles who have seriously rich financial backers looking to buy out a Home Counties club with the aim of getting into the Zurich Premiership.

Everyone has been talking of the proposed "London Tribe", the squad of South African exiles who have seriously rich financial backers looking to buy out a Home Counties club with the aim of getting into the Zurich Premiership.

Yet the "East Midlands Tribe" is already there and beating up the best of British. Northampton, coached by Alan Solomons, a South African lawyer, and studded with southern hemisphere rocks and hard cases, powered to an embarrassingly comfortable victory over Bath, who last season finished top of the heap after the League section of the Premiership.

But that is history. Northampton resembled the future. The spirit engendered by this collection of Antipodean antagonists was awesome. There were seven players making their debut for the Saints, including five South Africans, although the man of the match was an Englishman, John Rudd, the former Wasps winger.

Yet it was not as if Bath were that bad. In fact, at times, they were very good. Their pack punched its weight, lorded the line-out, scragged the Saints scrum and dominated possession and territory.

Unfortunately an appalling propensity in one aspect of their game - their ability to hang on to the ball - cost them dear. The turnovers were countless. All four of Northampton's tries came from Bath mistakes in the Saints half and the most spectacular score was the last one, when Bath were pressing hard on the Northampton line. Somehow they lost the ball, it was worked out by Saints to Marc Stcherbina, Mark Tucker played a one-two with All Black full-back Bruce Reihana before feeding Rudd, who set up Reihana for the fourth try, earning a bonus point.

That could well be the score of the season, because it will certainly take some out-and-out brilliance to better it. For Corne Krige, the former Springbok captain, the match was everything he had expected and more. "That was not at all easy," he said. "It was as tough as Super 12, if not tougher. It was fantastic out there." So were Saints. As performances go this can be guaranteed to become a tribal custom in the East Midlands, and if they reproduce it away from home, then everyone beware.

Northampton: Tries Human, Rudd, Tucker, Reihana; Conversions Grayson, Drahm 2; Penalty Grayson. Bath: Try Beattie; Penalties Malone 3.

Northampton B Reihana; J Rudd, M Tucker, M Stcherbina (J Howard, 59-65), W Human (B Cohen, h-t); P Grayson (S Drahm, 55), M Robinson (Howard, 79); T Smith, S Thompson, R Kempson (R Morris, 65), S Boome (M Lord, 48), D Browne, A Blowers, G Seely (D Fox, 55), C Krige (capt).

Bath M Perry (J Maddock, 71); A Crockett, R Fleck, S Davey, B Daniel; C Malone, M Wood (N Walshe, 76); D Barnes (M Stevens, 32), J Humphreys (capt; L Mears, 51), D Bell (Barnes, 80), S Borthwick (R Fidler, h-t), D Grewcock, A Beattie, I Feaunati (G Delve, 71), M Lipman (J Scaysbrook, 32-47 & 72).

Referee C White (Cheltenham).

Comments