Saints survive scare
EUROPEAN CUP REPORT: Northampton Saints survived a tremendous Benetton effort to stay on course for the quarterfinals – with a 33-20 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.
But the scoreline does not tell the full story, as the Italian side led 20-19 with 15 minutes remaining – before the Saints’ extra power eventually told.
The decisive score came with just eight minutes remaining when Saints’ centre Fraser Dingwall charged through for the bonus point try from Henry Taylor’s pass.
Northampton then put the icing on the cake as replacement Andy Symons showed his power to score under the posts.
The home side had enjoyed the perfect start when Harry Mallinder celebrated his return to action after a 15-month injury absence with the first try after only six minutes.
A perfectly worked move from the scrum created the overlap on the right flank and Mallinder was in position to dart over wide out.
But the Saints failed to build on their territorial advantage and were denied a second try when Olly Sleightholme went in wide out but James Grayson’s looping pass to the winger was ruled forward.
Benetton had hardly landed a blow-up to this point apart from Tommaso Allan’s penalty but they rocked the home side six minutes from the break when centre Tommaso Benvenuti intercepted Francois van Wyk’s pass on half-way on race over to give Benetton a 10-5 interval lead.
Hooker Hame Faiva increased the pressure on Northampton when he rampaged over from a line-out maul but Northampton, who also had tries from Henry Taylor and van Wyk and 12 points from the boot of James Grayson, were not to be denied.
Northampton completes their Pool One campaign at Lyon next Saturday, while Benetton host top of the table Leinster on the same day.
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Mallinder, Taylor, Van Wyk, Dingwall, Symons
Cons: Grayson 4
Tries: Benvenuti, Faiva
Cons: Allan 2
Pens: Allan 2
Yellow card: Charly Trussardi (Benetton, 27)
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Harry Mallinder, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Henry Taylor, 8 Teimana Harrison (captain), 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Mitch Eadie, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Andy Symons, 23 Ollie Sleightholme
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Giovanni Pettinelli, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Marco Fuser, 21 Charly Trussardi, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Marco Zanon
Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)
Report by @ChampionsCup