Match Centre: Northampton Saints 44-26 London Irish

Piers Francis was one of the try scorer for Northampton Saints
Piers Francis was one of the try scorer for Northampton Saints
©Steve Haag

Northampton Saints 44-26 London Irish, Franklin’s Gardens

Alex Mitchell and Ollie Sleightholme scored doubles as Northampton Saints defeated London Irish in the 16th round of the Gallagher Premiership at Franklin's Gardens.

The win has taken Northampton Saints to fourth place in the table with 46 points while London Irish are at sixth with 41 points.

London Irish were the first to open their account as Australian scrum-half Nick Phipps capitalised on a weak defence from the Saints to go over the line in the 9th minute and Paddy Jackson followed with the conversion.

The Saints responded back almost immediately with offloads from Mikey Haywood and Paul Hill allowed Mitchell to race through and find Dan Biggar, who managed to send Fraser Dingwall over. Biggar kicked the conversion and also followed with a penalty goal as Northampton seized a 10-7 lead.

Ollie Hassell-Collins helped the Exiles double their tally in the 21st minute after he brushed away a tackle from Piers Francis to dot down and with Jackson improving the scoreline became 10-14 but the lead was short-lived as Tom Collins broke into the 22 allowing Mitchell to score his first of the two tries in the 26th minute and Biggar kicked the extras making it 17-14.

The visitors suffered a setback as they lost Ben Loader to sin-bin in the 27th minute for tackling Nick Isiekwe in the air and immediately Northampton made use of the numerical advantage with Mitchell completing his second at the back of the resulting scrum to extend the lead to eight points.

As the break was approaching, Biggar slotted another penalty goal to ensure Northampton completed the opening half with a 25-14 lead.

London Irish were the first to get off the block in the second half as James Stokes went close to the line before Albert Tuisue crossed over reducing the gap down to six points but his effort was cancelled out as Sleightholme, who was looking threatening finally scored his first try in the 52nd minute that came at the back of the scrum to secure the bonus point for the Saints.

The Saints upped the ante as Biggar set up Piers Francis over in the 58th minute and also followed with the conversion making the scoreline 37-19 as Tom Wood came off the bench making his 200th Premiership appearance.

As the game was heading for the final 10 minutes Sleightholme completed his second to make it 44-19 before Loader managed to secure a bonus point for the London Irish with a 74th minute touchdown. While Biggar was sent to the sin-bin in the final minute, there was no damage done as Northampton completed a 18 point victory.

Team line up:

Northampton: Furbank; Sleightholme, Dingwall, Francis, Collins; Biggar, Mitchell; Auterac, Haywood, Hill, Ribbans, Moon, Isiekwe, Ludlam, Harrison.

Reserves: S Matavesi, Waller, Painter, Coles, Wood, James, Hutchinson, Tuala

London Irish: Parton; Loader, Stokes, Hepetema, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, Phipps; Dell, Matu'u, Chawatama, Munga, Simmons, Donnell, Cowan, Tuisue.

Replacements: Cornish, Elrington, Hoskins, Nott, Rogerson, Meehan, P. Cokanasiga, Homer.

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