Back at home
Saturday afternoon saw a very wet and windy Franklins Gardens host Northampton Saints vs Worcester Warriors. The Warriors came to the Gardens off the back of a very positive start at home against Leicester Tigers. At home they beat the tigers quite comfortably and looked as though they had come on significantly from the year before. A big performance from Ted Hill and some fine kicking from the Scotsman Duncan Weir gave them the win on the opening day of the season. Like wise Northampton won their first game of the season against a Saracens side who were short of a few big hitters but by no means had a poor side out. The weekend was a game that showed its not how fast you start but how strong you finish.
Kick off came at 3 o’clock on Saturday afternoon and the weather gods hadn’t been kind. Persistent rain for a couple of days prior to the game meant that both teams had been able to prepare for a wet weather game. Game plans change when the weather is so bad, you have to be cleaver with your kicking game, take risks at the right times and take your few chances when they come. Worcester started the game the better of the two sides, winning the kick battle and putting Northampton in the corner and under some pressure. A few Saints mistakes and a couple of poor pieces of discipline meant the warriors kicked 3 penalties. Northampton managed to wrestle back a little bit of momentum and kicked a couple of penalties and went into the half time break 6-9 down. The second half started and the saints started to play some smarter rugby by playing in the right areas. When the weather is that bad, you have to try and play the game in the oppositions third and make them make mistakes by defensive pressure. Worcester made an error under their posts and Northampton had an attacking scrum. Up steps Taqele Naiyaravoro with a 1 on 1 with he Worcester winger. That was only going to end 1 way! 2 quick tries and Northampton had some day light at 20-9. Northampton then jumped on a Worcester mistake and George Furbank raced away and scored in the corner. From the resulting restart Lewis Bean broke free and put Ollie Sleighthome in the corner. This really knocked the wind out of the warriors sails as the game was all but over. George Furbank crossed for his second and then Venter went over for the warriors to give them a little bit of joy in the last couple of minutes. The final whistle came and the saints ran out winners 35-16 leaving them top of the table after the first 2 games.
This Friday night we welcome Harlequins to the gardens. In round 1 they lost narrowly to Exeter Chiefs, and in round 2 they beat Bristol Bears in a rather wet encounter at the Twickenham Stoop. They are a team who like to play expansive rugby, they have very dangerous backs and they can throw anything at you. We have to be prepared for quick taps, little chips and tricky line out plays.
Thank you for those who braved the weather last Saturday and I hope to see you again this Friday night before the ‘Big Dance’ on Saturday morning!
Come on England and Come on you Saints!!