Heineken Cup Pool 1: Northampton Saints bounce back with 27-16 win over Ospreys
Last Updated: 20/10/13 5:35pm
Samu Manoa celebrates his early try for Northampton
Northampton Saints boosted their hopes of advancing from Pool One of the Heineken Cup courtesy of a 27-16 victory over Ospreys, who find themselves already on the brink of elimination from the competition.
Saints ran in three tries at Franklin's Gardens, all of which were converted by Stephen Myler, leaving Ospreys winless from their opening two fixtures and Northampton well-placed in the Pool after registering a losing bonus point at Castres last weekend.
Forward pair Samu Manoa and Christian Day crossed for Saints during a dominant first half display and Ben Foden added a third after Dan Biggar, who bagged all of Ospreys' points, had given the away support hope with a well-taken try shortly after the break.
Both sides pushed for respective bonus points in the closing stages but Northampton had to settle for four, while Ospreys returned to south Wales pointless.
The tone of the match was set immediately by the irrepressible Courtney Lawes, who clattered into recalled Ospreys scrum-half Tom Habberfield from the kick-off and Saints won a penalty, which Myler converted.
Saints imposed themselves in the scrum, too, and it was from the set-piece that the first try was scored. Northampton's forwards, minus Dylan Hartley who was receiving treatment for a head cut, provided the power, leaving No 8 Manoa the simple task of collecting from the base and crossing by the posts.
Ospreys cut the deficit to four points through two quickfire long-range penalties from Bigger's right boot, however Northampton continued to dominate possession and territory and it came as no surprise when they added to their tally.
Luther Burrell pierced the gainline and, after working Ospreys from right to left, Day was on hand to notch his first Heineken Cup try in the corner. Myler's conversion handed Northampton a 17-6 lead at the break.
Ospreys started the second half in a similar vein to how Saints had done the first and Biggar showed superb upper-body strength to hold off a number of tacklers and touch down under the posts on 45 minutes.
His conversion set the game up nicely at 17-13 and the scoreline stayed that way when Myler pulled a routine penalty wide five minutes later.
The decisive score came on 57 minutes when a powerful driving maul from Northampton drove Ospreys back towards their own try-line and when the ball was recycled, Foden strolled over for the easiest of scores.
Biggar reduced the gap with another long-range penalty on 63 minutes but his solo bid to get Ospreys back in the game was halted by his opposite number Myler, who kicked what proved to be the last points of the game.