A strong second-half performance saw Northampton win a low-key Gallagher Premiership battle 27-3 against London Irish at the Stoop. It was 3-3 at the interval but the Saints pack dominated proceedings thereafter to pick up a deserved victory and keep alive their hopes of securing a play-off spot.
Tom Collins and Ahsee Tuala scored tries, there were also two penalty try awards with James Grayson adding a penalty. A penalty from Paddy Jackson was the sole response from Irish, who were badly disrupted by injury which, together with yellow cards for Sekope Kepu and Will Goodrick-Clarke, ensured a defeat.
Despite the ideal playing conditions, the opening 15 minutes were featureless and scoreless with neither side able to bring any continuity to their play.
Irish came closest to scoring when Saints lost a lineout throw before conceding two penalties in quick succession. This gave the hosts a platform in the Northampton 22 where Irish elected for two driving lineouts, but they were unable to make them count.
There were seven penalties in the first 17 minutes as both sides struggled with the new breakdown laws and, from the last of these, Grayson kicked the visitors into the lead.
Wow! @SaintsRugby secure the bonus point on the last play of the game!
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) August 22, 2020
Northampton were the more inventive side in the opening half-hour but it was their opponents who came nearest to a try when Ollie Hassell-Collins was sent away down the left flank. However, with the line in sight, the wing threw a poor inside pass to ruin any chance of a score.
Irish suffered further blows when three-quarters Theo Brophy-Clews and Ben Loader were forced to leave the field with injuries but Jackson’s easy penalty brought the sides level at half-time.
The hosts would probably have been the happier at the interval as they turned to have the breeze in their favour during the second half. However, Saints always appeared to be the more potent force and were rewarded with the first try when skilful work by centres Matt Proctor and Rory Hutchinson created space for Collins to kick ahead and win the race for the try.
Irish suffered a further injury blow when replacement scrum-half Nick Phipps was withdrawn for a head injury assessment and their fortunes took another downturn when Saints were awarded a penalty try after Kepu had collapsed a driving maul and was yellow-carded.
The concession of five scrum penalties in quick succession saw another penalty try award with replacement prop Goodrick-Clarke booked before Saints saved the best until last when Tuala evaded two weak tackles to crash over in the corner for the bonus point.
"Many Northampton fans didn’t want me & were very outspoken. They assumed I was on mega wedge, not the academy contract that I essentially signed"@jameshaskell on hateful fan sites, I'm a Celebrity edits screwing him; MMA, BLM & more w/@heagneyl ???https://t.co/9SsEeGT790
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 16, 2020
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