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Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Grayson kicks Saints to victory
Northampton's Matt Dawson scored the first try of the game
Matt Dawson is stopped in his tracks by Matt Sexton
Northampton 32-9 Ulster

Northampton opened their Heineken Cup account with a victory against Ulster on Sunday, thanks mainly to a powerful performance from their pack.

The Saints simply had too much experience up front for the 1999 champions, who struggled to find any rhythm and ultimately paid the price.

Northampton kept possession well up front and goaded Ulster into making errors from which Grayson slotted five first-half penalties.

  Match details:
Northampton 32 (15)
Tries: Dawson, Leslie

Pens: Grayson 6
Cons: Grayson 2.
Ulster 9 (6)

Pens: Humphreys 2, Doak

Grayson finished with 22 points adding a second-half penalty and converted two late tries by Matt Dawson and Martin Leslie.

Ulster received a blow before the game had even begun when captain Jeremy Davidson pulled out with a thigh injury.

They also lost inspirational fly-half David Humphreys who tweaked an ankle in the first half and finally hobbled off in the 52nd minute.

But the Saints kept things simple and finally buried Ulster's hopes of their first European victory on English soil.

Ulster lacked certainty in the opening period and were made to play second fiddle to the Saints pack.

When they did venture into Northampton territory, they did so without much conviction, and it was left to Humphreys to open his side's scoring with two penalties.

Northampton wing Ben Cohen then came close after crashing through a gap to make 50 metres before the move broke down.

Northampton winger Nick Beal
Nick Beal attempts to crash through the Ulster defence
Grayson pushed Northampton further ahead with his sixth penalty seven minutes after the restart.

At 18-6 up, Saints were worthy os their lead and even ven when Andrew Blowers was sin-binned in the 42nd minute, the visitors could not find the wherewithall to do any damage.

Ulster scrum-half Neil Doak, who took over the kicking duties from Humphreys, finally found his range in the 58th minute.

It was left to Dawson to stir the home crowd with the only try of the game three minutes from the end.

Skipper Budge Poutney had done the spade work, to set up a ruck and Dawson cheekily darted through the smallest of gaps to steal in under the posts.

Grayson converted to all-but seal the match, before Leslie charged down a Bryn Cunningham clearance to wrap up a convincing win for the English club.


Northampton: N Beal; O Ripol; M Tucker, J Leslie, B Cohen; P Grayson, M Dawson; T Smith, S Thompson, R Morris, S Williams, M Connors, A Blowers, B Poutney, capt, M Soden. Replacements: M Stewart for Smith (54), G Seely for Soden (62).

Ulster: B Cunningham; J Topping; S Stewart, J Bell, T Howe; D Humphreys, capt, N Doak; J Fitzpatrick, M Sexton, R Kempson, G Longwell, M Blair, W Brosnihan, N McMillan, T McWhirter.
Replacements: S Best for Fitzpatrick (60), A Larkin for Humphreys (52).

Referee: Antonia Lombardi (Italy).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Ian Robertson
"A good win in appalling conditions"
Northampton coach Wayne Smith
"You don't have to be a genius on a day like this"
Man of the Match Paul Grayson
''It was a day for a bit of hard grafting''

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

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See also:

07 Oct 02 | European
07 Oct 02 | European
06 Oct 02 | European
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