Sunday, 28 May 2017

European competition - oval ball style

Friday 26 May 2017, Northampton Saints 23 Stade Francais 22 - European Champions Cup, Play-off, Franklin Gardens

Thought I would watch some oval ball action and with such an important prize expected a full house and a close game, My first visit to Franklin Gardens and was impressed with the ground if not the prices or the length of queues in the food village. Such an important game and with all tickets at just £19, was surprised the attendance was 4,000 lower than their average for league games.

The ref had a nightmare and the crowd soon got on his back but they may have just been looking for excuses as the Paris team dominated the first half, with all the good play coming through Genia and the Saints just hanging on in contention thanks to the penalty kicks of Mallinder.

Not sure anyone expected what happened in the second half, a sin bin for a French player and Saints got a try back but then a yellow card followed by a harsh red for Tom Wood would have thought any hope of a comeback were finished but Saints got a late try and great touchline conversion from Mallinder and then held on for the last 4 minutes- great win, great prize, great atmosphere.

This is the last play-off match for the 20th place in the Champions Cup as from next season the place will go to the Challenge Cup winners - ( if the change had been made this season it would have been Stade Francais getting that prize!)

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