Northampton 33 Bath 18: Ref stops play over racism

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The Rugby Football Union are to investigate incidents of alleged racist abuse by both sides during Saints' victory yesterday after a complaint by a spectator resulted in the game being halted in the 57th minute. The referee, Wayne Barnes, told the captains, Northampton's Bruce Reihana and Bath's Isaac Feau'nati, to warn the players about their conduct after the complaint had been made to the chief security officer.

Brian Campsall, the RFU's referee assessor at the game, confirmed that the referee had taken action following a spectator's complaint. "It was brought to the fourth official's attention by the chief security officer at the ground that he had received at least one allegation that players on both sides had been racially abusing each other," said Campsall.

"The chief security officer told the fourth official to stop the game. The captains were given 30 seconds to talk to all their players, tell them that there were accusations and that if they were taking place we didn't want to hear any more. I'm not aware of what might have been said by whom. None of the match officials had heard anything."

An RFU spokesman confirmed that the matter would be investigated. "We take such allegations very seriously and we will seek a report from the match officials and also from the chief security officer," he said.

Northampton's head coach, Paul Grayson, said: "I don't know anything about alleged racial abuse.'' But the club later confirmed that they would hold an investigation after they receive a copy of the full referee's report next week. A Northampton statement said: "The club does not wish to comment further on the matter until it has full understanding of the facts."

As for the game itself, Bath's forwards raised the pressure at the start, but Reihana kicked the penalties. Olly Barkley got one back for Bath, but Reihana finished with three.

Feaunati was warned for interfering with play in the 16th minute. Four minutes later he had a yellow card for his indiscipline and Northampton cut loose.

Tom Smith got their first try and Sean Lamont grabbed the second, which Reihana converted. Before the half ended, however, Andy Higgins managed a consolation try to make it 21-10 with Barkley's conversion. Barkley got the second half under way with a penalty and then Robbie Kydd claimed a try from Carlos Spencer's pass.

Saints then showed their pace and ingenuity, a clean break from midfield allowing Spencer to score from Reihana's slick pass and, at 33-18, the game was over. There was just one remaining try, for Michael Stephenson, and a yellow card for Danny Grewcock on the final whistle.

Bath's acting coach, Steve Meehan, said: "We're disappointed by the result but the damage was done in the first half, when we couldn't find our game."

Northampton: R Kydd (L Myring, 68); S Lamont, B Reihana (capt), D Quinlan, B Cohen; C Spencer, M Robinson; T Smith, S Thompson (D Richmond, 56), P Barnard (C Budgen, 75), M Lord, C Short (D Browne, 75), P Tupai (B Lewitt, 70), D Fox, D Browne (M Easter, 74).

Bath: N Abendanon; A Higgins (M Stephenson, 58), S Berne, O Barkley (R Davies, 76), J Maddock; C Malone, A Williams (N Walshe, h-t); D Barnes (D Flatman, 49), L Mears (R Horkins, 76), D Bell, R Fidler (J Faamatuainu, 76), D Grewcock, P Short, G Delve (C Goodman, 15), Feau'nati (capt).

Referee: W Barnes (Twickenham).

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