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Page last updated at 20:41 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 21:41 UK

Northampton 15-3 Bourgoin

Northampton (9) 15
Pens: Myler 5
Bourgoin (3) 3
Pen: Parra

Northampton celebrate their European Challenge Cup triumph
Northampton celebrate their European Challenge Cup triumph

Northampton comprehensively outplayed Bourgoin at The Stoop to win the Challenge Cup and secure qualification for next season's Heineken Cup.

In a free-flowing and often ill-tempered encounter, Stephen Myler kicked all of Saints' points.

Morgan Parra, who later suffered a shoulder injury, kicked one penalty for Bourgoin, while Thomas Genevois was dismissed in the dying minutes.

Northampton's win means Wasps miss out on Heineken Cup qualification.

Bourgoin's French rivals Brive, who include England internationals Andy Goode, Steve Thompson, Riki Flutey and Jamie Noon in their ranks, will take the last remaining spot in Europe's premier club competition.

Northampton, who only returned to the Guinness Premiership this season, came out of the blocks the quickest, and only some desperate defending from Bourgoin prevented Saints from scoring a try in the opening 10 minutes.

As it was, a line-out steal from Juandre Kruger led to 14 phases of play and a successful penalty attempt from Stephen Myler after Bourgoin's backs had strayed off-side.

Winger Paul Diggin very nearly scored in the corner after some delightful hands from Northampton's back-line, but Jean-Francois Coux was wise to the grubber from his opposite number and touched down first.

Shortly after, Yann Labrit opened up the Saints defence with a smart dummy before releasing Coux, but skipper Bruce Reihana came to the rescue with a superb cover-tackle.

With the game being played at break-neck speed, it was inevitable there would be some flash-points, and Saints scrum-half Lee Dickson was involved in a couple of spats with Parra, who typified the French side's feisty spirit.

Myler kicked a second penalty to give Saints a 6-0 lead, but Bourgoin pulled back three points through the boot of Parra on 32 minutes after the Saints pack was driven back in the scrum.

A few minutes later a scuffle between Neil Best and Parra flared into free-for-all, and both players were sent to the sin-bin.

Best required three stitches in an eye wound and replays suggested Bourgoin skipper Julien Frier was mostly to blame for the melee.

Myler slotted another three points to make it 9-3 just before the interval, before Benjamin Boyet just missed with a drop-goal attempt with the final kick of the half.

Saints started the second half at the same tempo as they did the first, and some sloppy play from the Bourgoin backs allowed Myler to extend his side's lead with a fourth penalty.


Myler then opened up Bourgoin's defence with a deft inside pass to Reihana. Coux looked to have done extremely well to get across and rescue the situation, only to be penalised for not releasing the ball.

While Bourgoin were hardly ever in Northampton's half after the break, Saints were unable to convert their territorial advantage into tries, and Myler pulled two attempted drop-goals wide before slotting his fifth penalty on 69 minutes.

But with Bourgoin unable to pick a way through Northampton's defences and never really looking like scoring, their frustrations boiled over in the last 10 minutes, with scuffles breaking out all over the pitch.

Their mood was darkened further when Parra had to leave the field following a ferocious tackle from Courtney Lawes, before Bourgoin replacement Genevois was sent off by referee George Clancy for a clunking punch on Lawes.

Hooker Dylan Hartley won the man-of-the-match award, while veteran Scottish prop Tom Smith was given one final run-out before slipping into retirement.

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder:
"To win a trophy in our first season back in the Premiership is a really good achievement. It wasn't pretty, it was a tough cup final.

"We knew there might be a bit of niggle and I thought we kept our composure well, particularly towards the end.

"It was a real steely performance from Stephen Myler, he's maturing all the time. He was brilliant in the semi-final, and today he was great in defence and attack and to have a goal-kicker like him means a lot to the team.

"There will be some great teams in the Heineken Cup, but we're a big club with great support and it's where we deserve to be."

Bourgoin assistant coach Xavier Pemeja:
"The first scrum of the match, if that had been in France we would have won the penalty.

"I don't want to criticise the referee but he was lost. The first duty of the referee is to protect the security of the players but he forgot that.

"It was a clear late tackle on Parra who now has a serious injury. That should have been a red card."

Northampton: Foden, Diggin, Clarke, Downey, Reihana, Myler, Dickson, Tonga'uiha, Hartley, Murray, Fernandez Lobbe, Kruger, Best, S Gray, Easter
Replacements: Ansbro for Clarke (70), Everitt for Myler (79), Dickens for Dickson (66), Smith for Tonga'uiha (74), Sharman for Hartley (78), Lawes for Fernandez Lobbe (40), Day for Kruger (70).

Sin Bin: Best (36).

Bourgoin: A Forest, Coetzee, Viazzo, David, Coux, Boyet, Parra, Tchougong, J Genevois, Wihongi, Levast, Basson, Frier, Jooste, Labrit.
Replacements: Laloo for Viazzo (80), Denos for Coux (56), M Forest for Parra (74), Cardinali for Tchougong (68), Vigneaux for J Genevois (58), S. Nicolas for Basson (52), T Genevois for Labrit (63).

Sin Bin: Parra (36).

Sent Off: T Genevois (75).

Att: 9,260

Ref: George Clancy (RU).

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see also
Mallinder targets Heineken place
22 May 09 |  Northampton
Bourgoin 22-11 Worcester
02 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Northampton 16-13 Saracens
01 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Challenge Cup final venue changed
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union

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