Northampton too good for Leinster in pre-season clash
August 31, 2013
Bath's Semesa Rokoduguni off loads the ball during his side's pre-season victory over the Ospreys on Friday night © Getty Images
There were mixed fortunes for the Premiership sides as the final round of pre-season clashes kicked off on Friday night.
Last season's beaten Premiership finalists Northampton Saints rounded off their preparations for the new campaign with a hard-fought 21-13 win over PRO12 champions Leinster at Donnybrook. Gareth Denman and Samu Manoa both crossed for tries to help propel Saints - who handed high-profile recruits George North and Alex Corbisiero their first starts - to their fourth straight victory. Stephen Myler kicked a conversion and a penalty with Sam Olver later adding two further penalties. A try from Martin Moore and a penalty from Jimmy Gopperth gave Leinster an 8-5 lead at the break but Dan Leavy late try was to be their only other score.
Matt Banahan, Leroy Houston, Semesa Rokoduguni and Ollie Devoto all touched down as Bath overcame a 10-8 first-half deficit to defeat the Ospreys at The Rec. Fly-half George Ford slotted a penalty and two conversions with the Ospreys' points coming courtesy of a try from Ryan Bevington and the boot of No.10 Dan Biggar.
Bath and England were handed an injury scare when centre Kyle Eastmond limped off in the closing stages of the match but first team coach Neal Hatley was quick to play down the significance of the injury expects him to be fit for the season opener against Newcastle on Friday night.
"Kyle took a little bit of a bang on the foot but it looks like just a niggle, so we think he will be alright," Hatley told the Bath Chronicle. "By the looks of it he should be OK for Friday. We'll know a bit more tomorrow but it doesn't look as serious as we initially thought."
Gloucester wrapped up their pre-season with a double-header against Plymouth Albion and Scarlets at Kingsholm. Tries from Dan Murphy, Jimmy Cowan, Martyn Thomas propelled the Cherry and Whites to a hard-fought 22-13 victory over Plymouth Albion in their opener. And they followed that success up with an impressive 31-17 victory over Scarlets with James Simpson-Daniel, Billy Twelvetrees, Matt Kvesic and Rob Cook getting on the scoresheet. Fly-half Freddie Burnes converted all four scores and also kicked a penalty.
"I'm delighted with the overall performance of the night across the two games," Gloucester director of rugby told The Citizen. "It was a show of strength from the whole squad. We had to dig deep, but the players responded well and I'm proud of them for that. It was always going to be a challenge, but it's exactly what we wanted. And now I think we can move into next week ready to start the season and take on Sale."
The Scarlets notched three tries of their own with Ken Owens and Rhodri Williams adding to a penalty try with No.10 Rhys Priestland impressing on his long-awaited return from the Achilles injury he suffered last season.
Elsewhere, Newcastle Falcons were beaten 15-5 by Edinburgh in Hawick - their first loss in pre-season. The Scottish side took a 9-0 lead at the break thanks to three penalties from Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw. The Falcons hit back with a try from Phil Godman in the second half but two further penalties from Piers Francis kept the Premiership side at bay.
"We defended well, and then in the second half had most of the territory and most of the opportunities. We just couldn't make it tell," Falcons boss Dean Richards told The Chronicle. "In pre-season games you just try and take out of it what you can, and in terms of plus points I thought our scrum was very good."
Ronan O'Mahony ran in a second-half hat-trick as Munster claimed a 27-13 victory over London Irish at Musgrave Park. A second half try from Bryn Evans and a conversion and two penalties from Ian Humphreys offered Irish hope of a notable pre-season scalp but hit back through O'Mahony with JJ Hanrahan sealing the win with the hosts' fourth try.
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