Saturday, January 7th, 2017
REPORT: Northampton Saints 32-26 Bristol Rugby
Saturday, January 7th, 2017
Aviva Premiership Rugby
Northampton Saints 32 - 26 Bristol Rugby
|Haywood, Wood, Picamoles, Hanrahan||Tries||Eadie, Woodward|
|Myler (3)||Conversions||Woodward (2)|
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Ref: Andrew Jackson
A late Northampton surge denied Bristol Rugby a third straight Aviva Premiership win as they were edged out 32-26 at Franklin's Gardens - but they left with what could prove to be a vital losing bonus-point in their bid to beat the drop.
Jason Woodward led the way for Mark Tainton's side with a 21-point haul - four penalties, two conversions and one of the tries of the season - while Mitch Eadie touched down early in the first half. But they couldn't quite shift a powerful Saints side, who crossed four times through Tom Wood, Louis Picamoles, JJ Hanrahan and Mikey Haywood for a bonus-point win.
The form of Jason Woodward and Tom Varndell has been key to Bristol’s recent revival and the pair picked up where they had left off at Sale last week in the opening minutes, as Woodward glided outside his man and into the Saints’ 22 – but his offload was marginally behind the winger, who was shunted into touch.
But the move didn’t end there as Tuohy rose highest at the resulting lineout to gift Bristol possession, but when referee Andrew Jackson awarded the visitors a penalty, Woodward’s kick drifted wide.
Saints though, soon sprung into life with George North the catalyst – the Welshman returning a kick with interest, shunting off Hurrell in centre-field and racing clear. Foden’s prod through then forced Cliff to carry the ball over his own line and from the scrum that followed, Louis Picamoles bundled over from close range, with Myler adding the conversion.
EADIE DOES IT: Mitch Eadie dots down for Bristol's first try at Franklin's Gardens (Photo: JMP UK).
Woodward’s second attempt at goal was a marked improvement on his first as he got Bristol on the board from 25 metres – and the visitors then registered their first try of the afternoon, as Mitch Eadie took advantage of Wallace’s surge down the right to power over from five metres having collected Nick Fenton-Wells’ perfectly-timed pass.
Woodward then extended Bristol’s lead to 13-7 with a monstrous 50-metre kick on the half-hour mark, but the lead lasted only six minutes as Mikey Haywood rounded off a spell of Saints pressure with his side’s second try courtesy of a driving maul. Myler’s conversion gave Saints a one-point lead at the break.
They were at it again early in the second half – and it was that man Picamoles at the heart of it, shaking off three would-be tacklers before finding Tom Wood for a run-in to the line, with Myler’s conversion was never in doubt.
Bristol responded, as they have done so many times in recent weeks, with Woodward firing over a penalty to narrow the gap to five points on 50 minutes.
And they soon went one better with one of the tries of the season, as Woodward’s chip ahead from inside his own 22 bounced kindly for Varndell – and the Kiwi rejoined the action to collect the winger’s inside pass and coast in from 50 metres before adding the conversion.
SUPER JAS: Jason Woodward slides in for one of the tries of the season in the second half (Photo: JMP UK).
But back came Saints – straight from the kick-off – with JJ Hanrahan charging down Cliff’s clearance and sliding in for the score. Myler squandered the conversion, but Woodward made no such mistake with his next kick – a penalty from 40 metres – to level the scores at 26-26 on 65 minutes.
Myler nudged the hosts back in front with a penalty from just outside the 22, after Hurrell was penalised at the breakdown – and that was followed by a Harry Mallinder drop goal as Saints built a six-point lead in the closing stages.
The hosts then pushed on for fifth try, but they were met by a resilient Bristol defence - and when Dickson kicked the ball into the stand, the visitors had held on for a vital losing bonus-point.
Jason Woodward's length of the field effort had given Bristol a two-point lead on 58 minutes, but Saints' immediate response from JJ Hanrahan - who charged down Will Cliff's kick straight from kick-off - saw momentum shift back in the home side's favour.
Photo of the match:
ELATED: Jason Woodward celebrates his second half try with the travelling Bristol support (Photo: JMP UK).
Man of the match: Jason Woodward
A quite outstanding individual performance from Woodward, who followed up last weekend's showing at Sale with another eye-catching display. The Kiwi finished with a 21-point haul and touched down for a memorable try at Franklin's Gardens. Class.
Social media post of the day:
Bristol Rugby: Jason Woodward; Jack Wallace, Thretton Palamo (Arscott 69), Will Hurrell, Tom Varndell; Adrian Jarvis (Searle 62), Will Cliff (Williams 62); Kyle Traynor (Bevington 62), Rob Hawkins (Crumpton 58), Jamal Ford-Robinson (Cortes 62), Dan Tuohy, Ben Glynn (Sorenson 58), Nick Fenton-Wells (Lam 65), Olly Robinson (c), Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Max Crumpton, Ryan Bevington, Gaston Cortes, Mark Sorenson, Jack Lam, Rhodri Williams, Billy Searle, Luke Arscott.
Northampton Saints: Ben Foden, Jamie Elliott (Estelles 12), Luther Burrell, JJ Hanrahan (Mallinder 65), George North, Stephen Myler, Nic Groom (Dickson 69); Alex Waller (Clare 67), Mikey Haywood, Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day (Craig 67), Tom Wood (capt), Teimana Harrison, Louis Picamoles (Gibson 65).
Replacements: Charlie Clare, Ethan Waller, Paul Hill, James Craig, Jamie Gibson, Lee Dickson, Harry Mallinder, Juan Pablo Estelles.