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Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Saints take revenge on Irish
Mark Soden of Northampton goes on the charge
A weakened Irish could not deal with Saints
London Irish 14-38 Northampton

Northampton took revenge for their Powergen Cup final humiliation by sweeping past London Irish in the Zurich Championship play-offs.

  Photo Gallery: See this story in pictures

Saints proved too strong for an Exiles side that was virtually a second-choice XV as coach Brendan Venter opted to rest his key men.

Northampton won the try-count 4-2, but with Barry Everitt absent for the hosts, it was the boot of Paul Grayson that made the big difference.

The stand-off kicked 18 points to set up a semi-final against Bristol.

  Match facts
London Irish 14
Tries: Pfister, Barrett
Cons: Brown (2)
Northampton 38
Tries: Beal (2), Pountney, Penalty
Cons: Grayson (3)
Pens: Grayson (4)
Northampton had been beaten 38-7 by Irish at Twickenham and made an equally bad start at the Madejski Stadium, conceding a converted try to Gavin Pfister in the second minute.

But they got back into the game through two penalties from stand-off Paul Grayson and then built up a substantial lead through two tries from Nick Beal and another from Budge Pountney.

  Photo file: Watch the action

Irish were hit by the sin-binning of prop Doug Wheatley and flanker James Cockle as Northampton went 25-7 clear.

But when Saints hooker Steve Thompson sat out 10 minutes soon after their return, the Exiles closed to within two scores as scrum-half Kevin Barrett collected his own chip to score.

However, Northampton were home and dry when referee Dave Pearson awarded a penalty try for a push on John Leslie as he was about to touch down Beal's kick ahead.

London Irish: Thrower; Ezulike, Hunt, Cannon, Drake; Brown, Barrett; Wheatley, Flavin, Halford, Delaney, Burke, Gustard, Pfister, Cockle.
Replacements: Martens, Appleford, Drotske, Halvey, Hardwick, Hatley, Williams.

Northampton: Shaw; Moir, Tucker, Leslie, Beal; Grayson, Dawson; Smith, Thompson, Morris, Phillips, Brouzet, Blowers, Pountney, Soden.
Replacements: Richmond, Stewart, Hunter, Seely, Malone, Brooks, Webster.

Referee: Dave Pearson (RFU)

BBC rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson
"A disappointing Zurich Championship continued"
Northampton captain Budge Pountney
"The London Irish shirt was motivation enough"
Northampton's Matt Dawson
"We'd rather be in it"
Northampton coach Wayne Smith
"It was a poor spectacle"
See also:

13 May 02 |  English
Moving the goalposts
20 Apr 02 |  English
Exiles claim Cup glory
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