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 Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 16:28 GMT
Saints keep Euro hopes alive
Northampton's John Leslie is tackled by Biarritz's Serge Betsen
Northampton came from behind to beat Biarritz
Northampton 17-14 Biarritz



Northampton substitute Peter Jorgensen snatched a try at the death to let the Saints off the hook against Biarritz at Franklin's Gardens.

Trailing 14-10 with four minutes left, Northampton sensed their Heineken Cup dream was slipping away from them.

But a rolling maul marshalled by Saints' fit-again England scrum-half Matt Dawson set up the winning score with Biarritz reduced to 14 men.

Northampton had struggled despite enjoying vast territorial superiority but three missed penalties from Paul Grayson kept them on the back foot.

Match facts
Northampton 17
Tries: Thompson, Jorgensen
Cons: Grayson, Dawson
Pens: Dawson
Biarritz 14
Tries: Cassin
Pens: Yachvili (3)

Hooker Steve Thompson also scored a try for Saints and Jean-Emmanuel Cassin raced over for Biarritz, both in the first half.

But Dawson's early second-half penalty cancelled out Dimitri Yachvili's third kick to set up the finale.

Former European champions Northampton lead group six by two points from Biarritz with one pool match left against Ulster at Ravenhill next week.

Northampton made hard work of their overwhelming amounts of possession in the first period and found themselves 11-7 down at the interval.

The Saints played for most of the opening quarter of an hour inside Biarritz's final third, save for a brief raid by the French which yielded a successful penalty for Dimitri Yachvili.

It was a magnificent effort and just showed how much we wanted it

Saints boss Wayne Smith

The home side continued to press hard but were denied by some stalwart defending before winning their first penalty wide on the right.

But Grayson opted for the high kick into the opposite corner and Biarritz were able to snuff out the threat.

Saints still poured forward and probed the narrow side before winning a second penalty, only for Grayson to miss the gift.

Biarritz had very little to show for the first 20 minutes but against the run of play, Yachvili stroked them into a six-point lead.

Steve Thompson
Thompson scored Saints' first try

But it was Northampton who struck for the first try.

Saints swept left and Nick Beal's dummy took him over the gain line before a deflection off a Biarritz hand fed Thompson, who crashed over in the corner.

But soon after, Biarritz hit back from a loose Northampton chip through.

French winger Philippe Bernat-Salles tidied up and floated a long pass out left to Cassin, who carved a gaping hole in the Saints defence to race home.

Marching orders

After the break, Yachvili extended the lead before Grayson missed two chances to narrow the lead.

Northampton soon won another penalty and this time they looked to Dawson, whose kick bounced through off the upright.

The green and golds sensed time was running out and tried to up the tempo.

Inside the last four minutes Saints were camped on Biarritz's line and Grayson was dragged down inches short, only for the tackler Julien Peyrelongue to get his marching orders for smothering the ball.

Saints declined the penalty and set up Jorgensen on the left before Dawson added the conversion, again off the posts.

Biarritz pressed hard into the six minutes of injury time but Northampton held on despite losing lock Jon Phillips to the sin bin.


Northampton: Beal, Ripol, Hyndman, Leslie, Cohen, Grayson, Dawson, Smith, Thompson, Stewart, Williams, Hunter, Seely, Soden, Connors.

Replacements: Richmond, Budgen, Morris, Phillips, Vass, Brooks, Jorgensen.

Biarritz: Etcheverria, Bernat-Salles, Bousses, Cassin, Bidabe, Peyrelongue, Yachvili, Menieu, Gonzales, Avril, Versailles, Roumat, Betsen, Tonita, T. Lievremont.

Replacements: Campo, Fitzgerald, Minassian, Nauroy, Milheres, Mazas, Stcherbina.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Ian Robertson:
"Things are looking up for Northampton"
 Man-of-the-match Ben Cohen
"It was a mentally tough game"
 Northants captain Matt Dawson and Peter Jorgensen
"The boys are more than usually pleased"

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

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