Marching On In

For much of the Premiership season Northampton were squeezed out of games that they really should have won with many of their bonus points coming from losses.

Not last night though – at halftime they were 9-22 down after Stade scored three tries.

But in a great second half they stormed back and pipped the French side by 23-22 to march into next season’s Champions Cup.

This was despite playing some of the half with just 13 men and finishing with 14.

The game was as exciting as last weekend’s 2 Premiership semi-finals and again wasn’t decided until well into the last 10 minutes.

The home side were roared on by a partisan crowd singing “I want to be in that number” – and last night they were!

The only downside was the straight red card for Tom Wood – he was deemed to have made contact with the head of Djibril Camara in a ruck. It wasn’t totally clear despite the many TMO replays but as everyone knows if you go anywhere near the head with your boot then you are taking a big risk.

If Wood is found guilty of stamping it will put his participation in the tour to Argentina in doubt – the penalty for the offence is between 2 and 9 weeks. The England party meet up tomorrow but the hearing for Wood will not happen until later in the week.

The Saints had been troubled by Camara’s pace and the slick offloading of the French side but managed to stay in touch thanks to Harry Mallinder’s kicks. Not least the touchline conversion he made to snatch and keep the lead with just a few minutes left.

Warren Gatland will have been delighted to see the form of George North and Courtney Lawes and the fact that they are both fit to fly out on Monday.

Equally Michael Chieka will have been right chuffed with Will Genia’s display.



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