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The admiration Chris Boyd has for Finn Russell after Friday night

By PA
(Photo by PA)

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Northampton boss Chris Boyd could only admire Finn Russell after the Racing 92 fly-half orchestrated a 45-14 Heineken Champions Cup victory at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night. Russell played a central role in four of his side’s five tries as he linked brilliantly with Kurtley Beale to put a disappointing Saints team to the sword on the opening day of the tournament.

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“Finn Russell passed well, kicked well, ran the game well. He is a quality footballer,” Boyd said about Racing talisman Russell. “When Finn plays behind a pack that gives him front-foot ball he is an absolute handful.

“When you play someone like Finn Russell, it’s not him you have to get at, it’s the ball he picks up. I enjoy watching Finn play, he’s a quality player. Racing lived up to their Test match status. Just about everyone in their team has played Test rugby and some of them are world-class.

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“They are desperate to win the competition and they have a roster that could threaten. I’d expect them to be there somewhere around the end.”

Saints trailed 13-0 after just eight minutes and they never recovered as flanker Wenceslas Lauret ran in a hat-trick and wing Juan Imhoff plundered two touch downs. 

“I can’t fault the intent. We tried hard, but at times we were naïve and at times we were sloppy,” Boyd said. “At times we were in trouble physically and didn’t get enough of our game on the field. We conceded too many points early and really didn’t stay in the hunt long enough to threaten at all.”

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Northampton visit Ulster next Friday, with Dan Biggar a major doubt after he limped off with a thigh injury, but Courtney Lawes should be back after recovering from Covid-19. “Ulster is a game that we need to get some points out of if we want to stay in the Champions Cup,” Boyd said.

“Courtney was coming back from the return-to-play protocol for Covid. The return to play is different for a normal human being, so we were hopeful he’d be right, but he didn’t get enough of his training in to be available for this game.”

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