Cohen gives Saints bonus boost
By Graeme Mair. Last Updated: 14/01/07 7:20pm
Northampton Saints beat Border Reivers 29-19 at Murrayfield, a result that takes them to the brink of the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
The match was switched to the home of Scottish rugby union from Borders' waterlogged pitch at Netherdale, but the change of scenery failed to inspire the hosts.
Ben Cohen [pictured] scored two tries in the second-half to ensure the Saints collected the bonus-point win that moves them onto 20 points in second place behind Biarritz in Pool Six.
Northampton also scored twice in the first-half through Paul Tupai and Paul Diggin, but took a lead of just 17-12 into the interval as Borders duo Ross Ford and Simon Danielli also collected a try each.
But Cohen's interventions in the 43rd and 51st minutes allowed the English side to pull away and, despite Borders' responding with a 68th-minute Callum MacRae try, they comfortably held out.
It was the Reivers who made the better start and they were ahead in the seventh minute when hooker Ford went down the narrow side for a try following a lineout.
That appeared to wake the visitors up and Tupai had soon levelled the scores by touching down after slick work from John Howard and Carlos Spencer.
Fly-half Spencer slotted the conversion and then added a penalty for a 10-5 lead after 14 minutes.
Borders regained the initiative when Danielli went 80 metres for an interception try in the 21st minute, MacRae adding the additional two for a 12-10 advantage.
After referee George Clancy sent former Scotland team-mates Staurt Grimes and Tom Smith to the sin-bin for fighting, MacRae missed an opportunity to stretch the hosts' lead with a penalty.
And they were made to pay when full-back Diggin finished off a Spencer-inspired move for the Saints second try in the 38th minute. Spencer's conversion took them to the break 17-12 ahead.
Borders' comeback hopes were wiped out in the space of eight minutes after the break as England winger Cohen touched down twice.
And although MacRae's late score kept the scoreline respectable there was never any doubt that the points were heading south.
Northampton face Biarritz at Franklins Gardens next weekend to decide who will progress as Pool winners, but it would take several other results to go against the second-placed team if they are not to also progress as one of the two best runners-up.