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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 December, 2004, 18:26 GMT
Northampton 23-21 Toulouse
HEINEKEN CUP Pool Three
Northampton's Mark Robinson
Northampton: 23:
Tries: Robinson
Pens: Grayson 5
Drop: Drahm
Toulouse: 21:
Tries: Fritz, Jauzion
Cons: Michalak
Pens: Michalak 3
Northampton put their Zurich Premiership form behind them with a nail-biting win over last season's finalists Toulouse in the Heineken Cup.

The Saints preserved their 100% record in Pool Three courtesy of a Shane Drahm drop goal 10 minutes from time.

Toulouse outclassed Northampton for long periods of the match but fly-half Paul Grayson kept them ticking over with five penalties from five attempts.

Man of the match Mark Robinson made the difference with a 38th minute try.

Northampton's fortunes in the Heineken Cup bare little resemblance to their Zurich Premiership form following a run of nine consecutive defeats.

And new Northampton captain Steve Thompson credited the sweeping changes made at Franklin's Gardens for the stirring victory.

We still have lots of work to do - that was by no means a polished performance
Coach Budge Pountney

Coach Alan Solomons was sacked two weeks ago and replaced by a temporary team headed by Budge Pountney, while Thompson replaced Corne Krige.

"There's belief in this side now and that's because this is a new team with new management," said Thompson.

"We took a step up in training and put pressure on each other. Everyone sees it as a fresh start and that was obvious from today's result."

Pountney said: "I'm very pleased for the players to finally get a win. We struggled to get one from anywhere but produced one today and it's a solid base to build on.

"They dug out the result and that was so important for us. We showed an awful lot of spirit and that was the most pleasing thing.

"But we still have lots of work to do - that was by no means a polished performance.

"We play Toulouse again next Saturday and I think by beating them today we may have stirred up a hornets' nest."

Shane Drahm
Shane Drahm sealed the win on 70 minutes

Indeed, the visitors looked dangerous every time they touched the ball and Northampton had to battle hard for their victory.

Toulouse's Frederic Michalak - playing at scrum-half - kicked 11 points while tries from Florian Fritz and Yannick Jauzion put the French side in control for a lengthy spell.

But it was the home side who managed the best move of the first half, right wing John Rudd breaking the line and feeding Ben Cohen - playing at outside centre - who could not find Thompson on the overlap.

Robinson ghosted in at the right corner following a scrum soon after and Toulouse replied with a magical try on the stroke of half-time.

Wales' Gareth Thomas triggered the move, the ball passing through several pairs of hands before reaching Fritz who crossed in the left corner.

Toulouse dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half only to be let down by poor handling as they threatened to add a second try.

Cohen then made a 40-yard break before Jauzion crashed over for Toulouse.

But Saints were not to be denied, working their way into a position for Drahm - who replaced Grayson on 70 minutes - to pounce for his winning drop goal.


Northampton: Clarke, Rudd, Cohen, Stcherbina, Human, Grayson, Robinson, Budgen, Thompson, Morris, Lord, Browne, Blowers, Krige, Soden.
Replacements: Richmond, Sturgess, O'Donoghue, Seely, Howard, Drahm, Vilk.

Toulouse: Baby, Thomas, Jauzion, Fritz, Jean-Jean, Dubois, Michalak, Collazo, Bru, Hassanein, Lamboley, Gerard, Bouihlou, Labit, I. Maka.
Replacements: Servat, Lacombe, Pelous, F. Maka, Dupuy, Heymans, Clerc.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)


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