Walder shows his worth

Northampton 9 Newcastle 16
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The Independent Online

Northampton were driven back repeatedly by Walder's wonderfully accurate kicking for position. In fact, it is misleading to think ofWalder as nothing more than Jonny Wilkinson's deputy and it is pertinent to recall that his 32 points against Saracens five years ago places him, alongside Tim Stimpson and Niall Woods, as the scorer of the most points in a Premiership game.

"At times we get very frustrated with Dave," said Rob Andrew, Newcastle's director of rugby. "In fact after last week's horror show against Bristol, I nearly didn't pick him. He needs to take more responsibility for the way he plays. But you saw today just how good a footballer he is."

Walder is not only a kicker, but can do most other things as well, including try-scoring. His first-half touchdown - the only try of a fractured game - was a gem.

Had Saints been able to summon up some creativity, Newcastle would have been left kicking themselves. The home side just shaded the second half but, apart from a late rally, which took up most of the eight minutes of added time, there was no sign of the try which might have earned them a draw.

It would have been more than they deserved, so for the time being they will have to be pleased with the stunning new South Stand which is the latest phase of the redevelopment of Franklin's Gardens. The team can come later.

Ben Cohen, Sean Lamont and Bruce Reihana have bags of pace, though only Reihana and Carlos Spencer offer any creativity. Walder added two drop goals to his try, while Matt Burke tagged on the conversion and a penalty. Reihana claimed all Saints' points with three penalties.

Northampton: Penalties Reihana 3. Newcastle: Try Walder; Conversion Burke; Penalty Burke; Drop goals Walder 2.

Northampton: B Reihana (capt); S Lamont, J Clarke, S Mallon (R Davies, 69), B Cohen; C Spencer, M Robinson (J Howard, 71); T Smith, D Hartley (S Thompson, 40), B Sturgess (C Budgen, 53), M Lord, D Browne, M Soden (B Lewitt, 69), D Fox, M Easter.

Newcastle: M Burke; T May, J Noon, M Mayerhofler, M Tait; D Walder, H Charlton (J Grindal, 60); M Ward (D Wilson, 60), A Long, R Morris (T Paoletti, 50), A Perry (S Grimes, 26-38), G Parling, O Finegan, B Woods, C Charvis (capt).

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).