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The BBC's Eddie Butler
"The ref blows the whistle for the end of what has been a remarkable European semi-final"
 real 28k

Paul Grayson
"If the BBC could come every week, I might get a game every week"
 real 28k

Tim Rodber
"It's great for the club ... Grayson earned his money again"
 real 28k

Sunday, 7 May, 2000, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Saints send Scarlets crashing

Northampton's superb European run continues
Northampton 31-28 Llanelli

Northampton have set up an English-Irish European Cup final, after a thrilling victory over Llanelli at the Madejski Stadium.

A last gasp penalty from substitute Paul Grayson proved to be the only difference between the sides in what amounted to a superb advertisement for Northern Hemisphere rugby.

Paul Grayson sends the Scarlets out
The match was a see-saw affair, with Llanelli taking a 19-9 advantage into the break.

But Saints held on, scoring quickly in the second-period to hold out against a ferocious late attack from the Scarlets.

In a blistering opening, Northampton moved through 10 phases of play, before opting for a scrum, after Llanelli were penalised just metres from the line.

I feel we let Northampton back into the game during the second-half, and when Grayson's penalty came, I thought 'trust it to be his kick'

Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins
The atmosphere was electric and Llanelli were unlucky not to have been awarded with a penalty try after Frederico Mendez was caught blatantly offside.

Nevertheless, Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones took advantage of the penalty to put the first points on the board.

Minutes later, Mendez was lucky not to receive a yellow-card after interfering with the ball during another fine Llanelli charge. Jones again converted to double his side's lead.

Salesi Finau up-ends Craig Moir
The 0-6 scoreboard seemed to wake Saints up and a ferocious piece of driving by the Northampton pack was rewarded with a penalty. Matt Dawson made no mistake, before levelling affairs when Scott Quinnell was penalised for not releasing the ball on the floor.

The see-saw continued when Dawson levelled after Jones had added another three points - but then came the game's opening try.

After a scrappy attack from Llanelli, Rupert Moon fed out on the blindside to wing Dafydd James who crashed through Pat Lam and Nick Beal to dive over in the left-hand corner.

Jones' conversion gave Llanelli a 9-16 lead and the Welsh international added his fourth penalty, after Tim Rodber was adjudged to have impeded Gillies in the line-out.

Saints fight back

Northampton started furiously in the second period and with just four minutes on the clock Allan Bateman touched over, thanks to a wonderful quick break from Dawson.

Things then quickly got worse for Llanelli when Phil Booth was sin-binned for punching.

Dawson made up for missing his relatively straightforward conversion, by slotting the penalty and bringing his side back into the game.

Dafydd James crashes over
With Booth off the field, Martyn Madden replaced Ian Boobyer. It seemed to galvanise Llanelli, with Jones pushing the Scarlets ahead with two more inch-perfect kicks.

Quinnell was lucky to stay on the field after a high tackle on Dawson, and after Booth returned, Dawson brought his side back within touching distance from in front of the posts.

Had Matt Cardey not knocked on with a two-man overlap, Llanelli could have wrapped up the game early.

Instead, Saints survived to close the gap further, thanks to another Dawson penalty after the Scarlets were caught offside.

It set up a thrilling finale, but with Northampton on top they always looked like securing a second.

And when Ben Cohen was given just a yard of space on the left he made the most of it to power over for an unconverted try.

Allan Bateman replies for Saints
Seconds later both Dawson and Lam left the field with injuries, while Grayson replaced Ali Hepher at fly-half.

With just minutes to go, Llanelli were camped on the Saints line, but still Northampton held out.

The tension was unbearable, but the Welsh club were finally rewarded with a penalty which Jones coolly converted as the clock ticked down to zero.

It meant nothing, however, when Boobyer was penalised for interfering with play on the ground.

With virtually the last kick of the match, Grayson slotted home from 50-yards to put the English side through.


Northampton: Beal, Moir, Bateman, Allen, Cohen, A. Hepher, Dawson, Pagel, Mendez, Stewart, Newman, Metcalfe, Rodber, Pountney, Lam.
Replacements: Malone, Grayson, Northey, Walter, Scelzo, Phillips, MacKinnon.

Llanelli: Cardey, Proctor, James, N. Boobyer, Finau, S. Jones, Moon, Booth, McBryde, J. Davies, Wyatt, C. Gillies, Easterby, I. Boobyer, Quinnell.
Replacements: Madden, M. Thomas, Cooper, I. Jones, Evans, Horgan, M. Jones.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

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