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  • Mustoe,
    Penalty goals: Parks (3),
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  • Clark,
    Penalty goals: Myler (6),

Saints storm Cardiff fortress

Rush sees red as Northampton triumph in Welsh capital

Last updated: 19th December 2010   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Saints storm Cardiff fortress

Myler: kicked six penalties

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Northampton Saints maintained their 100 per cent record in the Heineken Cup with a 23-19 victory at Cardiff - the Blues' cause not helped by the second-half dismissal of Xavier Rush.

Substitute Calum Clark crossed over for the decisive score, and his side's only try, seven minutes from the end to make the Blues pay for Rush's red card for a dangerous tackle on Courtney Lawes.

The Blues had looked like they might hold on, with Richard Mustoe's try just after the break plus 14 points from the boot of Dan Parks rewarding their endeavour.

But it was the Saints' pack that again ultimately decided the contest, with Tongan prop Soane Tonga'uiha deservedly named man of the match, while Steve Myler's six penalties kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Dominance

It meant a first home loss in 13 matches in the competition for the Welshmen, who again failed to come to grips with the Saints pack after their dominance at Franklin's Gardens last time out.

Northampton were therefore naturally keen to have another go up front, and spurned an early free-kick for the put-in at the scrum.

Their forwards duly drove the Blues back, the home side were penalised and Myler kicked the visitors into a third-minute lead.

But the Blues showed more flair behind and their pressure was eventually rewarded with a simple Parks penalty for offside, only for Myler to restore the Saints' lead when Blues wing Richard Mustoe was penalised for holding on.

The Welsh region kept pounding away, the lively Martyn Williams scavenging for possession, and Bradley Davies and Rush were both held up before the Saints transgressed again, centre James Downey receiving a yellow card and Parks slotting over the penalty.

The Scottish fly-half added another three points when Northampton flanker Tom Wood offended at the tackle, but on a rare visit downfield Myler rounded off the opening period with another simple penalty.

The Blues introduced British and Irish Lion Jamie Roberts at half-time for his first outing of the season following a wrist operation in the summer and the burley centre played a typically muscular part in the game's first try.

A mazy run by fellow centre Casey Laulala set up the move, which was finished off by winger Mustoe, twisting out of a tackle to touch down, Parks converting.

Blues lost lock Davies to the sin bin for slowing down the breakdown and Myler kicked his fourth penalty to cut the deficit.

The Saints were beginning to threaten more with ball in hand and a run from deep by England full-back Ben Foden saw the move ended by a Rush tackle on Courtney Lawes, which referee Jerome Garces thought dangerous enough to justify a red card. Myler inevitably kicked the resultant penalty.

Flattened

When Northampton lock Christian Day flattened home scrum-half Richie Rees there were loud demands from the home section of the 7,000-plus crowd for similar treatment, but the French official saw nothing amiss.

Another penalty conceded by the beleaguered Blues scrum allowed Myler to put the English team in front, but the hosts refused to capitulate and a snap drop-goal by Parks edged them back into the lead.

It was mainly a rearguard action by the Welshmen, however, and after a superb tackle by Laulala had held up Wood, the rest of the Northampton back row drove over the line, replacement Clark eventually being credited with a try after lengthy deliberations by the television adjudicator. Myler, for the first time, missed the kick.

A yellow card for Clark evened the numbers, but a knock-on by flanker Maama Molitika in the opposing 22 saw the Blues' last hopes disappear.

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Comments (9)

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Phil Smith says...

The blues where robbed by french and English bandits!plain and simple. Rushies tackle was a great hit which looked worse than it was.anyone who knows rugby knows he isnt that type of player.I was under the impression rugby was a physical game. When teams come to your home patch you try and intimidate and influence the ref. The likes of Toulouse and Munster have been doing it for years and look what the have achieved. As for the "try" whats the point in using technology if they dont get it right, it wasnt even a 50/50 call.

Posted 16:45 20th December 2010

Phil Smith says...

The blues where robbed by french and English bandits!plain and simple. Rushies tackle was a great hit which looked worse than it was.anyone who knows rugby knows he isnt that type of player.I was under the impression rugby was a physical game. When teams come to your home patch you try and intimidate and influence the ref. The likes of Toulouse and Munster have been doing it for years and look what the have achieved. As for the "try" whats the point in using technology if they dont get it right, it wasnt even a 50/50 call.

Posted 14:44 20th December 2010

Dan Norman says...

Saints are simply a far classier outfit, with a 15 comparably superior to their respective opposite numbers of Cardiff.....Enough said!

Posted 14:12 20th December 2010

Tony Jones says...

Sour Grapes Just take the defeat like a man - the players did..... The try was not given by the referee as he went 'upstairs' and also the red card was given after consulting the touch judge and they both agreed. Cardiff pressure at the breakdown made the refs job very difficult and your boy's got away with a lot - Courtney Lawes is a very young player - give him a break.

Posted 12:46 20th December 2010

Scott Robson says...

I'm not sure if we were watching the same game Chris Stone? Courtney made countless tackles throughout the game and was a constant thorn in Cardiff's side at the breakdown. It was a straight red, quite clear for all to see, if you watch Rush face after the hit he is looking around as he expects to get abuse from the saints players, plus Courtney sat straight up. Oh well, hope you enjoy the Amlin Cup with all the other 'big hitters'

Posted 12:42 20th December 2010

Nick Coleman says...

Joke referee? Try Northampton's dominant pack, unforced errors by Cardiff and increasing petulance by a team being put under pressure by a very streetwise and established Saints 15. Agree it wasnt a try, but it was definiteley a red, and Im sure the disciplinary panel will agree.

Posted 11:56 20th December 2010

Mick Collyer says...

Lawes is 6'8" yet Rush still hit him with a high tackle, never a sending off? he should be sent back to NZ for such an awful tackle. If the Cardiff players had spent more time playing rugby than whingeing & attempting to influence the referee then they might have come away with something.Tito was dishing it out but cried like a baby when he got 1 back & its a good job that the 9 didn't have his pram on the park because the toys would have been scattered all over south Wales

Posted 10:28 20th December 2010

Trefor Evans says...

It's been 10 years of rebuilding but the Saints finally have a suitably strong enough side to bring the Heineken cup back to the Franklin Gardens. The pack are simply awesome with some great finishers in the back line to support. It's a joy to watch the Saints once again.

Posted 08:01 20th December 2010

Chris Stone says...

Unfortunately another game decided by a joke referee. Never a sending off and never a try - the ball was grounded before the line and then held up. If Lawes is the future of England's second row, then god help England. He's too light and cough's up the ball too much - He's also a very good actor. If Rush had hit him as hard as he made out he''d still be down now.

Posted 22:19 19th December 2010

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