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Bristol 14-13 Northampton

Bristol (7) 14
Tries: Ward-Smith, Eves Cons: Jarvis, Barnes

Northampton (10) 13
Try: Downey Con: Myler Pens: Myler 2

Bristol centre Luke Eves
Bristol's Luke Eves scores the crucial try at the Memorial Stadium

Bristol secured their first Premiership win of the season thanks to replacement centre Luke Eves' converted try.

Eves ran in unopposed from 30m out in the 69th minute and Ed Barnes' angled conversion halted a run of 11 straight league losses stretching back to March.

Northampton had led 10-7 at the break, Stephen Myler's penalty and James Downey's try cancelling out a 20th-minute try from Dan Ward-Smith.

Myler added a second penalty on 56 minutes before Eves' late score.

And Bristol held on for the vital win when Myler's last-gasp drop-goal drifted wide of the posts.

Although Bristol remain at the bottom of the Premiership, the victory puts Richard Hill's men just one point behind struggling defending champions Wasps.

Northampton were without hooker Dylan Hartley, Euan Murray and Scott Gray because of international commitments as well as injured wing Sean Lamont but they enjoyed a bright opening, Myler kicking a 14th-minute penalty.

Bristol, who had scrum-half Shaun Perry back in the squad for the first time this season after recovering from shoulder surgery, responded through their forwards, number eight Ward-Smith scoring from close range after a trademark drive from the pack.

The home side could not build on the score however, and Saints retook the lead when inside centre Downey started and finished a well-worked move.

Perry was sent on at the start of the second half to try and fire his side, who lacked confidence when they moved the ball wide and did not have a cutting edge.

But they conjured up a try from nothing when Eves broke through the Saints defence to run in from 30m out - Barnes holding his nerve to land the conversion.

Northampton piled on the pressure in the final 10 minutes but Bristol were able to close out the game.

Bristol coach Richard Hill:
The win will do us a lot of good, it will provide a spring in the step.

"If we had lost then the season was virtually dead. It would have been hard to come back from, but we are fighters in this type of situation.

"We just needed to get on the right side of the scoreline. It was probably a good old-fashioned Bristol win; we rolled up our sleeves and showed a lot of grit."

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder:
"In the end, we had a defensive lapse, which was unfortunate.

"We seemed to get our numbers wrong and it was very disappointing to concede a try from first-phase possession. It is gutting. We knew it would be a tight game, and so it proved.

"At 13-7 ahead we knew the next score could be decisive but we didn't get it, even though we created a few chances.

"We have got to regroup now and be ready for next weekend's game against Bath."

Bristol: Lilo; T Arscott, Brew, Barnes, Lemi, Jarvis, Beveridge, Clarke, Regan, Hobson, Winters, Sidoli, To'oala, El Abd, Ward-Smith.
Replacements: Turner for Lilo (57), Eves for Jarvis (57), Perry for Beveridge (52), Linklater for Regan (69), Crompton for Hobson (69), Grieve for To'oala (69).
Not Used: Sambucetti.

Northampton: Foden; Ashton, Mayor, Downey, Reihana; Myler, Dickson; Smith, Shields, Stewart, Fernandez Lobbe, Day, Hopley, Easter, Wilson.
Replacements: Tonga'uiha for Smith (65), J Gray for Shields (69), Kruger for Hopley (65).
Not Used: Lawes, Dickens, Spencer, Mordt.

Att: 6,310

Ref: Dean Richards (RFU).

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see also
Break can revive Bristol - Hill
13 Nov 08 |  Bristol
Bristol 22-24 Saracens
01 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Northampton 33-20 Scarlets
01 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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