Seconds Out says:
NORTHAMPTON held out to secure the points from a pulsating European Cup Pool 1 clash with Munster at Franklin’s Gardens.
Man-of-the-match Shane Geraghty, who has strong family ties in Mayo, enhanced his chances of an England call up with a top class performance in the game of the weekend.
The Saints’ outhalf scored one try and created another two and also fired over the final penalty on a night when the visitors had to be content with a losing bonus point, a bonus point which could prove crucial when this group is decided.
However, Munster had reason to feel aggrieved at French referee Christophe Berdos’s decision to blow for full time when Marcus Horan went into the heart of the Saints defence and was swallowed up in a nailbiting finale.
With nothing coming back out the ref decided that Munster were holding on and blew for full time, a decision that incensed Paul O’Connell.
Geraghty fired the Saints ahead with a ninth minute penalty and set up the opening try for Chris Ashton following a Warwick fumble.
Warwick redeemed that error with a stunning drop goal from half way and the fight back was underway when a superb kick through from Keith Earls allowed David Wallace to cross the line.
O’Gara and Geraghty exchanged penalties to leave the scoring tied at 14-14. But Munster paid the price for sleepy defending when they were caught cold just before the break after Geraghty, who appeared to be taking the option of kicking for the posts, instead took a quick tap in before touching down for a try which he converted.
Ashton then crossed the whitewash five minutes after the break, Geraghty adding the extras. But O’Gara kept chipping away at the lead and when O’Leary fly over for a short break try from the scrum the Reds were just one point adrift of an heroic comeback.
However, Geraghty has the final word with his 75th minute penalty, although the Saints had to withstand a late onslaught before claiming the win in a repeat of the 1999/2000 final which the English club won 9-8 at Twickenham
Munster, who despite tonight’s spirited fight back have conceded 61 points in the last seven days, will be favourites to beat Italian Treviso at Thomond Park next weekend. However, the Italians served notice with this afternoon’s narrow one point home win (9-8) over French side Perpignan that they have no intention of being the whipping boys of Pool 1.
Speaking after tonight’s game Paul O’Connell told the BBC that he felt Northampton took their opportunities very well.
It wasn’t a fabulous performance but it was an improvement on Leinster last week. But we let in too many soft scores. There were a few defensive lapses. Against a team of the quality of Northampton you can’t give them those opportunities. They are good at taking their opportunities. Shane Geraghty is playing well at the moment and they are very good at what they do. They have a strong ball-carrying game and when we presented them with opportunities they took them and took them very well.
Meanwhile, Ulster got their campaign off to a positive start with a 26-12 thumping of Bath on Friday, but defending champions Leinster were left stunned after losing out to London Irish in Dublin.
A last gasp penalty from Ryan Lamb – just a few minutes after Jonathan Sexton has levelled the match at 9-9 – secured the points for the Exiles. Leinster must now travel to France next weekend to meet a Brive side who will also be eager to record their first win following their 24-12 loss to Scarlet’s this afternoon.
Oh Jesus Oh Jesus Oh Jesus, what the fuck was that?? I’m no longer a young man and people my age shouldn’t have to endure that kind of torture. That fucker Geraghty is far too good for my liking, and it’s little comfort to know that his people come from Mayo, where they all play bogball but not rugby and make amorous eyes at sheep.
I really thought we had it at the end and I couldn’t understand why the referee blew it up. Were we not playing the ball? Were we not driving forward? Perhaps not. Maybe he judged that it was gone to ground and we were making no progress, but I thought it would make more sense to end the game when the play went dead.
Hey. Who am I to ask such things?
It was a great game. A cracking game, and Northampton were a fine side. Great opponents. For much of the game there was nothing in it. Knock for knock.
As the first half ended with a well-worked Northampton try, I remarked to my old buddy Parkenstein that the worst possible start to the second half would be an early try, and what happened?
That’s right. Another fucking try within minutes of the restart. Jesus Christ!!
But Munster rallied well and in the end there was no more than a hair between the two teams. At least we got a bonus point, and Treviso beat Perpignan today as well, sweetening the pill slightly.
A fine game, and a victory richly deserved by Northampton.
We look forward to entertaining them on our home turf.