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L WELSH 14 SAINTS 43 Mallinder praises patience as Saints win in Oxford

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The first half was all Welsh, who showed plenty of ambition to keep the ball alive in an attempt to stretch the travellers. But having more possession and receiving plaudits as to how you want to play is only half the story; it is about what you do with the ball you have, and in this regard Saints dealt a lesson to their hosts.

Three chances, three tries, starting after just five minutes when Calum Clark was driven over in a powerful maul. And with Saints having come into the Kassam Stadium clash on the back of a memorable win at Saracens in Round 8, many of the travelling hordes in black, green and gold will have anticipated the floodgates opening immediately.

But it took a further 25 minutes for the second try to come, Stephen Myler crashing over by the posts. In the intervening period Welsh regularly got into the visitors’ 22, only to come unstuck against a resolute Saints rearguard, one Jamie Elliott tackle on flanker Peter Browne in particular standing out.

So when Ricky Reeves saw yellow four minutes before the break it was inevitable that Saints would go to the corner, ending the half in the same way that they had started it, with a try, this time for Samu Manoa.

“Sometimes you can’t just chuck the ball around and score tries like that,” director of rugby Jim Mallinder told BBC Northampton. “London Welsh came out and were enthusiastic, and you need a bit of patience to wear these teams down. That’s what it took.

“At points our intensity wasn’t quite there. We’ve had some big games recently, and sometimes naturally your game isn’t at the level you want it to be at.

“We scored three tries through the forwards, which gave us a gap, and then it was quite nice in the second half to score some good tries.”

The first half may have opened Saints up to a bit of criticism for the way that they had played the territory and stuck to their guns, but within 10 minutes of the resumption of play they had scored a pair of sensational tries to win the bonus point and kill off the contest in the process.

Number four came just three minutes into the second half. A penalty was kicked to the corner, and with Phil Dowson winning it cleanly at the back the platform was there for Christian Day to feed Samu Manoa and get Saints onto the front foot in the home 22.

The ball went through the hands, James Wilson came off his wing to make the extra man and his lovely offload put Jamie Elliott over.

Number five was even better. Having recovered the kick off, Saints looked for all the world to be putting boot to ball, and Welsh’s defence dropped accordingly. This opened the way for Alex Waller to burst through a ruck on his own 22, sparking a break that involved both Tom Stephenson and Manoa, with Ben Foden ultimately strolling over for his first try of the season 80 metres upfield.

With two Myler conversions Saints were now 33-0 to the good, and while Taione Vea crashed over from close range to get Welsh on the score board it was temporary respite, as Wilson squeezed in at the left corner a minute later.

Manoa and Ben Nutley were heavily involved in that try, with the latter rounding things off for Saints with nine minutes remaining.

Still Welsh kept on coming, rewarded with a consolation score five minutes from time from Nic Reynolds. But by then Saints had disappeared over the horizon, even though, as Mallinder acknowledged, there will be plenty to work on during the week.

“We’re happy,” he added. “It wasn’t our best performance, we know that, but it has given a chance for 23 players to get some game time, we’re at the top of the Aviva Premiership table and have got a bonus point win away from home.”

You can re-live the action as it happened at www.saintslive.co.uk

The Saints stay on the road next week, but return to Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, December 13th, where they will play Treviso in the European Rugby Champions Cup. Tickets are on sale now - head to www.tinyurl.com/SAI-TRE-1415 and follow the straightforward instructions to book online 24/7! Use [email protected] to beat the match day queues and save the admin fees!


5mins SAINTS Try Clark 0-5

10mins SAINTS Miss pen Myler 0-5

33mins SAINTS Try Myler Con Myler 0-12

36mins WELSH Yellow card Reeves

38mins SAINTS Try Manoa Con Myler 0-19


43mins SAINTS Try Elliott Con Myler 0-26

47mins SAINTS Try Foden Con Myler 0-33

50mins WELSH Try Vea Con Ross 7-33

52mins SAINTS Try Wilson 7-38

65mins SAINTS Yellow card Dickinson

71mins SAINTS Try Nutley 7-43

76mins WELSH Try Reynolds Con Robinson 14-43


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