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Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Sunday, 1 May 2011 14:50 UK

Northampton v Perpignan as it happened

SCORE UPDATES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times GMT)

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By Ben Dirs

Saints skipper Dylan Hartley: "Discipline was crucial, we knew we couldn't give away silly penalties and we achieved that. The first 40 minutes no-one was moving in the scrum but in the second half we had a few go our way and that was down to hard work. To be in the final is just special, to go to Cardiff, the big occasion. And this team, on its day, can win any game."

Man of the match Phil Dowson: "You can see from the reaction of our players what it means to win and how tough it was. We played them last year in the group stages and took a hiding in the first 20 minutes and learnt from that. We spoke about discipline because we knew referee George Clancy would be sharp on that. The final against Leinster is a massive challenge but the ambition of the club is to be in big games and it doesn't get bigger than Leinster in Cardiff."

Full time
FULL-TIME: Northampton 23-7 Perpignan Perpignan look to attack from deep again but the ball is spilled. Northampton kicks deep, Michel is enveloped by a gang of Saints attackers, who haul him back over the line. Scrum 5, and that's that, Perpignan have been well and truly mullered. Eleven years after their first and last appearance in the Heineken Cup final, Saints are there again. Leinster will be favourites, but on this evidence, I'm not sure they should be.

77 min: Northampton win the line-out and drive towards the line. Christian Day is replaced by Sorenson in the second row for Saints, he had a very solid game. Desperate stuff now from Perpignan, attacking from behind their own line, and the ball goes forward. The French side turned up like a drunk man at a party, flailed around for a bit, abused a few people and then fell flat on their back.

72 min: Perpignan marmalised at scrum-time again, they're effectively a beaten team. Northampton put Perpignan on their heels again before the ball is swung left and Ashton makes the half-break. Another penalty and Hartley opts to kick for the corner...

67 min: Dickson with an attempted clearance and Plante takes and slices through the Northampton defence. But what a tackle that is from Lawes and it's a Northampton scrum. That clock ticking down, Perpignan need something now... Saints penalty, Perpignan smashed at the scrum, high fives all round, Myler punts clear. Tonga'uiha did a number on Nicolas Mas there, and that doesn't happen very often.

64 min: Tuilagi is into the fray now and he's putting himself about like a Sherman tank. Perpignan 5m short and that's fine defence from Saints, looks like chance gone for Perpignan: penalty Northampton and Myler puts his foot through it.

60 min: Downey slashes through the Perpignan defence but the visitors turn the ball over. Marty slices his kick, not much going right for the visitors at the moment, or indeed at any stage today.

58 min: Perpignan's backs get a rare sighter of the ball and Porical kicks the ball away, which is rather unwise. The scrum is a bit of a mess again but Saints eventually get it out. Myler kicks deep and Perpignan counter. The ball is coughed up, though, and Ashton pins Perpignan in their 22 with a delightful grubber.

54 min: Perpignan's forwards on the rumble again, not too far from Northampton's line. Line-out on the 5m line but Northampton snuff out the threat, Tonga'uiha pummelling Guirado into touch. Bizarre decision by Hartley, who goes long, and the ball bounces hither and tither, and Clarke eventually brings it clear.

49 min: PENALTY Northampton 23-7 Perpignan Northampton keep coming and coming and coming and Perpignan eventually give up a penalty. Smart offload by Clarke to Mujati to set the penalty up, Myler swings one over from the right touch-line. Perpignan swimming against the tide, one more score by Saints and they could be drowning.

46 min: Here comes Tonga'uiha again, like a runaway train, but he's eventually hauled down. The ball is shipped to Hartley on the left wing but what a tackle that is to deny Saints' skipper a try, fellow hooker Guirado the defender. He punches the air, he still thinks his side are alive.

43 min: Myler with the restart, Candelon still in the bin. Saints get some rumbles going, Downey takes two defenders out, Myler dummies and nearly wriggles through, Tonga'uiha goes on the charge, Perpignan eventually clear. Candelon back on.

Half time
HALF-TIME: TRY Northampton 20-7 Perpignan Perpignan win a rare penalty and they kick for the corner when perhaps they should have taken the points. We'll see. Line-out, Perpignan claim it, drive forward and Guirado peels off and muscles his way over. That could be a big moment in this match, things aren't looking as gloomy for the visitors as they were a minute ago.

37 min: PENALTY 20-0 Perpignan Perpignan's kicking very aimless at the moment, Saints simply running it back into space or kicking more intelligently for territory. Hartley realises he's got Perpignan by the jaffers - penalty and Myler kicks for the line-out. Perpignan knock-on, Saints scrum, Perpignan creak, and the hosts win their ninth penalty so far. Bosh, Myler pops it over and that could be the match.

Yellow card
31 min: Perpignan have totally lost it - restart, and left wing Candelon goes right through Dickson, who is sent spinning like a helicopter seed. Naughty, naughty, very naughty and Candelon is in the bin. Dickson, thankfully, is alright after treatment.

29 min: TRY Northampton 17-0 Perpignan Perpignan look shot - line-out from Saints and the ball eventually goes left and the French defence opens up like the Red Sea. Jon Clarke with ballerina's feet and he's in under the posts. Soft, but Saints will take it, they're all over Perpignan like a cheap suit.

28 min: Perpignan have got to keep a lid on it here, they're threatening to bubble over. This time Guiry has gone flying in from the side. Myler makes an absolute dog's dinner of the penalty attempt, but it all comes up roses as Candelon knocks on. I can safely say, this match is not a classic. So far...

26 min: PENALTY Northampton 10-0 Perpignan Perpignan rocking and rolling at the moment amid the Northampton waves, but that's a huge clearance from Porical to ease some pressure. Bit of handbags between Marty and Ashton - would be a good fight, that - after Marty is called back for off-side. Poor decision, he was behind the kick. Whatever, Stephen Myler's made it 10-0 with a three-pointer.

20 min: Foden looking sharp as a tack at the moment - quick take, beats a couple of men before persuading the cutest of grubbers off the outside of his boot. Alas, Ashton cannot quite take it.

18 min: Foden, on the counter, swerves his way past several Perpignan defenders before slashing inside and feeding Ashton. It's slightly behind him but Northampton keep coming. Massive hit on Myler and eventually the French side win a penalty. After a nervy start, Northampton have suddenly taken the visitors by the lapels.

Try graphic
16 min: TRY Northampton 7-0 Perpignan Saints putting some phases together and here goes Dowson! The big man ghosts through the Perpignan defence off the back of Downey's Rolex-timed pass and Ben Foden pops up on the right wing to cross for Saints' first try. Myler pops over the extras.

13 min: Perpignan off their feet at the ruck and here comes Ashton with mitts on the ball for the first time. Lawes with a cute offload, Plante off-side, Myler's got a tough one from the left touch-line. Hooked it, the Saints fly-half badly needs a settler.

10 min: Finally we have a completed scrum. Myler has had a nervy old start, this time he has a scrubby kick charged down, but it comes to nil. Lost line-out for Saints and they need Myler to put his foot on the ball and calm things down, if you'll excuse the football parlance. Speculative drop-goal attempt from Laharrague, from inside his own half, and funnily enough he misses.

7 min: This time Perpignan win a penalty at the scrum, think that was Mujati dropping the scrum. Mele kicks for territory but Northampton burgle the line-out. Poor clearance from Myler and Chouly comes back at the hosts like an escaped barrel. Full-back Porical with a naughty tackle on opposite number Ben Foden, Saints penalty.

3 min: Dickson in a spot of bother at the back of a line-out inside his own 22 but Saints eventually mop things up. The first scrum of the game, and this could be a screamer... Saints win the free-kick and Roger Wilson goes on the rampage. Myler with a sliced up and under and he knocks on. Scrappy start.

1 min: As expected, it's buzzing in Milton Keynes, and here come the teams. The referee is Ireland's George Clancy, taking charge of his first Heineken Cup semi-final, and Perpignan get us under way.

1457: Northampton, of course, were champions in 2000, while Perpignan have never won it before. Perpignan are only ninth in the French Top 14, but their form in Europe has been more than solid. Meanwhile, all the talk in the Saints camp has been about erasing the memory of last season's quarter-final defeat by Munster. Northampton played Perpignan twice last year, winning the home tie and losing at Stade Aime Giral.

1450: Afternoon, or whatever portion of the day it is wherever you are. Big old match-up today in the Heineken Cup semis, Northampton Saints of England against Catalan giants Perpignan. If it's half as good as Leinster-Toulouse, we'll all go home happy...




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see also
Northampton 23-7 Perpignan
01 May 11 |  Rugby Union
Mallinder has no doubts over Saints
21 Apr 11 |  Northampton
Saints too strong for Ulster
14 Apr 11 |  Rugby Union
Perpignan 29-25 Toulon
09 Apr 11 |  Rugby Union


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