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Saints keep perfect start going with hard fought bonus

22 Oct 2011
Saints keep perfect start going with hard fought bonus

Dylan Hartley scored two tries as Northampton claimed a 32-22 bonus-point victory over a youthful Ospreys side at Brewery Field in Bridgend.

The Saints fielded a strong side with the likes of England internationals Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Hartley and Courtney Lawes, but still trailed the Welsh outfit 19-10 at the break.

The Ospreys, with fly-half Matthew Morgan controlling the game, were twice reduced to 14 men in a bad-tempered first half. But they withstood much of the pressure and Morgan kicked four penalties before the break, while centre Sonny Parker intercepted a Vasily Artemyev pass to score on the stroke of half-time.

Northampton responded after the restart, however, as Calum Clark added to Hartley's double and Artemyev's first-half score to turn the contest around.

The Ospreys took a 6-0 lead with penalties for Morgan on five and 13 minutes before the Saints got on the board through a Ryan Lamb three-pointer after Ospreys captain Tom Smith was sin-binned for throwing a punch. And five minutes later a driving maul set up a try for Artemyev, who scored a hat-trick against Saracens last week, to give Northampton a 10-6 lead.

But the Saints could not keep the lead for long as Morgan put over two penalties to edge the home side ahead. And even after scrum-half Tom Habberfield was shown the yellow card for obstruction on 35 minutes, the Ospreys finished the half the stronger as Parker ran in from 60 metres out.

The Ospreys were still down to 14 men at the start of the second half and this time the Saints capitalised, with Hartley going over from a line-out drive shortly after the restart. And the power of their pack gradually wore the Ospreys down, leading to two converted tries in as many minutes.

First Hartley crashed over for his second of the match before flanker Clark was put over on the right-hand side courtesy of a pinpoint kick from Lamb.

Morgan did put over a fifth penalty on 62 minutes but the losing bonus point was taken away from the Welsh outfit when Stephen Myler slotted over a penalty in the final minute.

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