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Franklin’s Gardens is the venue for the first Heineken Champions Cup match of the season as Northampton Saints bid to return to the knockout stage for a second consecutive season. They will take on a Bordeaux-Begles side who were defeated in the Challenge Cup semi-finals last season, losing out in extra time to eventual winners Bristol Bears.
You can watch this Heineken Champions Cup Pool A clash on Friday evening at 17:30 (UK and Irish time), live on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS.
Chris Boyd (Northampton): “Maybe Europe’s come at the right time. We get a fresh start against Bordeaux at home this week in front of some fans, which will be really nice. We’ve got a very tough pool with Leinster and Bordeaux who are good sides from the Pro14 and the Top14 but we’ll throw ourselves into that first game and see what happens.”
Christophe Urios (Bordeaux-Begles): “We’re very aware that Champions Cup matches are on another level to Challenge Cup matches. We also know that the pace is different from our Top 14. It’ll probably be a much-anticipated match, and a high-intensity, fast-paced one. We experienced that last year in Bristol and even at home against Edinburgh, too. So we’re really going to need to go into this competition in a different frame of mind.”
“It’ll probably be a much-anticipated match and a high-intensity, fast-paced one…”
Christophe Urios knows it's set to be a cracker as @UBBrugby head to @SaintsRugby to open the #HeinekenChampionsCup season 🔥
Only a day to wait 🙌https://t.co/ZLaaLdC3yg
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 10, 2020
- This will be the first meeting between Northampton and Bordeaux in the Heineken Champions Cup, they did clash in the 1997/98 Challenge Cup however, both sides winning their home games in those pool stage matches.
- Northampton have won nine of their last 11 home games against TOP 14 opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup (D1, L1).
- Bordeaux’s only previous Heineken Champions Cup games in England both came against Exeter Chiefs (2015/16 and 2016/17), they lost the first of those games but won the most recent.
- Northampton Saints beat 30 defenders per game on average in the Heineken Champions Cup last season, more than any other team, choosing to kick from hand less often than any other club too (16.3 per game).
- Santiago Cordero (Bordeaux-Bègles) beat 29 defenders in his six Challenge Cup appearances last season, more than any other player.
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A remarkable 74th minute try from Argentine wing Santiago Cordero gave Bordeaux-Begles a pivotal away success in the Heineken Champions Cup as they defeated Northampton Saints 16-12 at Franklin’s Gardens.
Cordero reacted quickest from a Matthieu Jalibert penalty kick that hit the post, deflecting back into play and bouncing into the path of the Bordeaux wing who crossed the whitewash for the match-winning try.
Northampton dominated the early proceedings and raced into a six-point lead as pressure led to penalties for the hosts, with Dan Biggar slotting over two in the opening 15 minutes.
Ben Botica would hit back for the visitors, having already missed an early kick but this time pounced on the Northampton error as they went off feet at the breakdown.
It was soon a six-point lead again as Bordeaux were penalised for a high tackle inside their own 22, allowing Biggar to call for the tee and slot over his third penalty of the evening.
The ultimate opportunist!
Santiago Cordero is quickest the pounce on the loose ball for Bordeaux! ⚡️
Yet more late 💔 for Northampton!#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/myD3quzuem
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 11, 2020
Bordeaux then started to inch into the match and would end up level at the break as the French side’s scrum managed to win a crucial penalty just before the break, allowing Botica to sweep over from out wide.
Northampton again managed to get on top in the opening stages of the second period, with Biggar kicking Saints ahead on 45 minutes but despite Bordeaux being a man light due to a Cameron Woki yellow card, the score remained 12-9.
It was still a three-point gap when Bordeaux were again reduced to 14, with Maxime Lucu being penalised for foul play on 65 minutes but the visitors then dealt a huge blow with six minutes left in the match.
"We're finding new ways to lose…
"We know what to do, we know how to do it, we're just not doing it."
Understandably frustrated, Northampton Saints head coach Chris Boyd reacts to their late defeat to Bordeaux.#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/XKX0QUCqvT
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 11, 2020
Replacement fly-half Matthieu Jalibert hit a penalty kick off the post but it was Santiago Cordero who was the first man to react, collecting after an awkward Northampton bounce and dived over for a huge try.
Jalibert – who inadvertently set up the opening try – then slotted over the conversion with ease.
That would be the final action of note as Bordeaux were able to smuggle the ball into touch for a priceless away success in Europe. The French side take on Dragons in Round 2, whilst Northampton travel to Dublin to face Leinster Rugby.
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