Border Reivers 19, Northampton Saints 29 After a decision was made this morning by referee George Clancy to switch the venue of today’s Heineken Cup match from Netherdale to Murrayfield, the Border Reivers lost out to Northampton Saints by four tries to three. After the game, Reivers head coach Steve Bates said: “We basically went from having a home match in front of a Borders crowd to playing at a neutral venue today.Border Reivers 19, Northampton Saints 29
After a decision was made this morning by referee George Clancy to switch the venue of today’s Heineken Cup match from Netherdale to Murrayfield, the Border Reivers lost out to Northampton Saints by four tries to three.
After the game, Reivers head coach Steve Bates said: “We basically went from having a home match in front of a Borders crowd to playing at a neutral venue today.
“We gave away a couple of soft tries, but all-in-all we continued to be competitive and it was an improved performance from the away leg.”
The Reivers opened the scoring in the second minute with a try from hooker Ross Ford.
Gregor Townsend’s penalty found touch and the subsequent lineout saw Ford throw a quick one-two to Stuart Grimes and run in for the score.
However, it only took the visitors three minutes to equalise through flanker Paul Tupai. All Black stand-off Carlos Spencer edged the game in Northampton’s favour with the resulting conversion.
In the twelfth minute, Reivers winger Brendon Daniel left the field with a severe hamstring tear and was replaced by Mark Robertson, fresh from his impressive displays in the opening two tournaments of the IRB Sevens World Series.
Following a Spencer penalty, the Reivers fought back. Simon Danielli intercepted a pass out wide and left the Northampton defence in his dust as he sprinted over for the score. Calum MacRae converted.
Bryan Rennie, who struggled this week to shake of an injury, left the field in the 24th minute to be replaced by Steve Jones only minutes before Scotland stars Tom Smith and Stuart Grimes were sin binned.
With the score set at 12-10, Northampton struck the Reivers a blow with a converted try just before half-time. Fullback Paul Diggin finishing off a sublime break by Spencer.
Half-time score: Border Reivers 12, Northampton Saints 17
Straight from the dressing rooms, centre Ben Cohen secured the victory with two tries within ten minutes to give the Saints a 17 point lead.
The Reivers showed great initiative in the 55th minute when Gregor Townsend chipped behind the Saints’ line, although the chip was unfortunate not to find the grasp of Garry Law who was in pursuit.
Calum MacRae did cross the whitewash in the 67th minute after a winding run out wide saw him squeeze through a small hole in the visiting defence. He successfully converted his own try.
Ross Ford almost finished how he had started when, in the 78th minute, he crossed the line in the corner, but referee Clancy brought play back for an earlier knock-on.
Heineken Man of the Match: Carlos Spencer (Northampton Saints)
Border Reivers: Calum MacRae; Simon Danielli, Garry Law, Bryan Rennie, Brendon Daniel; Gregor Townsend, Rob Chrystie; Gavin Kerr, Ross Ford, Bruce Douglas, Stuart Grimes, Opeta Palepoi, Scott Newlands, Andy Miller, Kelly Brown
Substitutes: Mark Robertson for Daniel (12 mins), Steve Jones for Rennie (24 mins), Ed Kalman for Kerr (40 mins), John Dalziel for Newlands (53 mins), Richie Vernon for Palepoi (72 mins)
Unused: Steve Scott, Brendan McKerchar
Northampton Saints: Paul Diggin; Sean Lamont, Ben Cohen, Robbie Kydd, John Howard; Carlos Spencer, Mark Robinson; Tom Smith, Steve Thompson CAPTAIN, Pat Barnard, Christian Short, David Gerrard, Paul Tupai, Darren Fox, Daniel Brown
Substitutes: Chris Budgen for Tupai (32 mins) for Budgen (38 mins), Ben Lewitt for Fox (62 mins), Dylan Hartley for Thompson and Matt Lord for Barnard (both 65 mins), Rob Laird for Diggin (74 mins), Mark Easter for Browne (84 mins)
Unused: Chris Wyles