With eight Saints in the reckoning for selection at this year’s Six Nations, we follow the action for all five rounds to see how our Northampton contingent fare throughout the Championship.
ENGLAND RECLAIM CALCUTTA CUP AT RAIN-DRENCHED MURRAYFIELD
Full-back George Furbank notched up his first win in an England jersey, as the Red Rose beat Scotland 13-6 in torrid conditions at BT Murrayfield.
Ellis Genge’s second-half try proved the difference between the sides as Storm Ciara showed its full force and the driving wind and rain played havoc with the kicking game of both teams – with Owen Farrell and Adam Hastings eventually both landing two penalties apiece.
“The back row contributed to the game really well – Lewis Ludlam and Courtney Lawes were significant.”Eddie Jones
Furbank, 23, put in a mature performance from full-back in only his second Test match, while Saints flanker Lewis Ludlam also started the victory against England’s north-of-the-border rivals – making seven tackles while missing none, stealing a lineout, and helping transform Eddie Jones’ back row into a breakdown unit that dominated the tackle area.
Courtney Lawes replaced Ludlam for the final half hour in Edinburgh and made plenty of impact at a crucial time in the match, with the Red Rose lifting the Calcutta Cup at the final whistle for the first time since 2017.
“I thought the performance was outstanding,” said Jones. “I thought the players adapted superbly to the conditions, today was a test of leadership and how a team is able to adapt to the conditions and I thought our leadership was absolutely outstanding.
“[The back row] contributed to the game really well. Tom Curry and Sam Underhill were both disappointed with their performance last week, probably just a little off the pace but they were right on it today and were significant contributors along with Lewis Ludlam and Courtney Lawes.”
GRITTY IRELAND BEAT BIGGAR’S WALES IN DUBLIN
Dan Biggar could not make it two wins from two to start the Six Nations with Wales, as the defending champions were beaten in the tournament for the first time since 2018 in Dublin.
Ireland were in clinical form on home soil, with Andrew Conway eventually sealing a bonus-point 24-14 win in the 75th minute after Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, and Josh van der Flier had all also crossed the whitewash.
Wales had started in promising fashion and matched Ireland throughout most of a back-and-forth first half, with Tomos Williams dotting down an excellent backs move started off by Biggar in the 27th minute.
The Saints fly-half was in impressive form once again before an HIA ended his afternoon, gaining 29 metres from just five carries, making two clean breaks and beating four defenders in just 45 minutes on the pitch.
ENGLAND U20s UNBEATEN AHEAD OF FRANKLIN’S GARDENS SHOWDOWN
JJ Tonks, Manny Iyogun and Ollie Sleightholme all played their part at Myreside as England U20s recorded their second straight win in this year’s championship.
The Red Rose beat Scotland 21-17 in Edinburgh to back up last weekend’s bonus-point victory over double World Champions France.
“Now the players get to play in front of home support at Franklin’s Gardens in two weeks’ time and I know they will enjoy that experience.”Alan Dickens
Tonks started at flanker with both Iyogun and Sleightholme coming off the bench as England came from behind to win thanks to Connor Doherty’s late try – the side next face Ireland at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday 21 February, with tickets priced at just £10 adults and £5 juniors.
“We knew this would be a tough place to come and that proved the case, but the players showed great character and composure to win the game,” said head coach Alan Dickens.
“We probably didn’t have the majority of possession or territory so to come out on top is really pleasing and testament to their character. Our discipline is an area we need to look at and we will want a step up in performance against Ireland who are the Grand Slam champions at U20s.
“But it’s two wins from two which is a great start and now the players get to play in front of home support at Franklin’s Gardens in two weeks’ time and I know they will enjoy that experience.”