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Northampton looking to maintain winning run

Friday 22nd November 2019

2:07 pm (GMT)

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Northampton looking to maintain winning run

Alex Waller of Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints will look to make it five wins on the bounce against Benetton Rugby when they clash this weekend in the Heineken Champions Cup at Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

Benetton were beaten by Leinster Rugby in their first match of the season while Northampton did enough to defeat Lyon.

Key facts

  • Northampton Saints have won each of their previous four games against Benetton Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup.
  • Benetton’s last Heineken Champions Cup win at home against Premiership opposition came in December 2004 against Bath Rugby.
  • This will be Saints’ first visit to Italy in the Heineken Champions Cup since 2014/15.
  • Dan Biggar landed seven kicks in the opening round and no other player landed as many in Round 1.

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Nerveless Biggar settles a cracker at Benetton

Saturday 23rd November 2019

3:21 pm (GMT)

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Nerveless Biggar settles a cracker at Benetton

Dan Biggar’s nerveless penalty deep into added time settled a fabulously hectic game in Champions Cup Pool 1 as Northampton Saints snatched a drama-packed 35-32 victory at Benetton Rugby.

With scores level at the end of a pulsating 80 minutes, Iliesa Ratuva was penalised for a deliberate knock-on as he tried to intercept a pass, giving Biggar the opportunity to slot the winning penalty, before being buried byjubilant Saints team-mates.

It was brutal on Benetton after a super first-half showing. After an early Biggar penalty, the hosts’ first try came via Hame Faiva who rode two tackles to crawl over the line from five metres out.

Northampton responded thanks to a sublime piece of skill by Biggar, his behind-the-back pass alloweing Ahsee Tuala to release Thomas Collins down the wing, although Biggar’s conversion went wide.

Tommaso Allan’s penalty gave Benetton a two-point cushion which they soon built on with some fine work from their forwards after a lineout. Northampton backpedalled and Ratuva Tavuyara had a simple task to dot down in the corner. Allan couldn’t quite add the extra two points though.

Biggar was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Ratuva and with the Welshman out of the picture, Benetton made hay. Monty Ioane was denied what would have been a wonderful try by his toe dragging just into touch, but the hosts were not to be denied a third try and Nacho Brex waltzed through, dummied and touched down, giving Allan an easy conversion.

Another three points for Allan made it 25-8 but the game-changing moment came right on half-time. With Saints camped on the Treviso try line, Cobus Reinach’s quick thinking to take a tap penalty caught Benetton napping. Not only did Biggar convert, but Braam Steyn was given a yellow card for going off his feet.

After the re-start, Northampton levelled things up at 25-25 via a Biggar penalty and a converted try by Thomas Sleightholme , following a check with the TMO about a possible obstruction.

They then completed the comeback, and a run of 22 unanswered points, after a lovely burst by full-back George Furbank down the left wing and a simple offload to allow Collins to cross for his second try of the game.

However, in an unexpected plot twist, Benetton levelled the scores when strong work by the forwards allowed Faiva to barrel over for his second try of the match. That secured the Italians a bonus point, but the dramatic late penalty by Biggar broke Benetton hearts.

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