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News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report


By Howlin'
December 9 2012

There’s a chill in the air, Christmas is on the way and Saturday morning the 8th December sees many Northampton saints supporters looking to the East waiting for the Messiah. For yesterday their team was comprehensively beaten by an organised, skilful and highly motivated Ulster side who showed that they are worthy of the favourites tag many have given them for this years competition.







Heinken Cup Pool 4 Round 3

Northampton Saints v Ulster Rugby

Friday 7th December 2012 Franklin's Gardens 

KO 20:00

 

Saints 6 Ulster25

Saints had beaten them in Milton Keynes in the quarter finals a couple of years ago, chiefly by beating them up in the forwards. Yesterday Ulster showed they had learned some harsh lessons that day and demonstrated real grit and typical Irish tenacity in the loose, tackling ferociously, and at the breakdown.

The match started fairly evenly. Throughout the first half Saints scrum functioned well winning all but one on their own ball and winning the decision once from an Ulster put in. Their lineout too worked well; again winning all but one on their own ball and stealing one on Ulster’s throw. This gave Saints a steady stream of possession, a pattern that would continue into the second half. But it was where they lost their own scrum and where they lost their own lineout that proved crucial.

Kicking had proved difficult early on , with both teams missing two attempts at goal. One of Ulster’s had been a conversion however from Trimble’s try in the corner. It came from Ulster’s first real attack as a driving maul created the space for quick hands right to left and a deft chip through for Ulster’s top try scorer in the competition to put them first on the scoreboard. Ulster later went 8 three up with their first successful kick following Lamb’s earlier success from a hard earned penalty.

Saints big chance came with a five metre scrum. Saints scrum was dominant at this stage on their own ball and inexplicably to this writer the referee decided that the Ulster run around was Northampton illegally wheeling and gave the penalty to the defence. This was as close as Saints got to exerting pressure in the first half and was a crucial moment in the match. The next critical moment was when Saints conspired to lose the only lineout on their own throw close to their line. As again Ulster pounced efficiently and quick hands left to right saw them score their second try through Tommy Bowe on 33mins.

The hushed Saints hoards watched Lamb kick three more points after another concerted Saints attack was stopped illegally. Ah is he the Messiah ? No he’s a very naughty boy according to a large proportion of the “support”. At this point I feel I must apologise to the man in the bar who bore the brunt of my Ire at half time. His sarcasm regarding Saints constantly kicking possession away received sharp shrift mainly due to most people around me blaming Lamb for this. Firstly sir I maintain my view that kicking is sometimes necessary. A player on receiving the ball has three choices; run with it, pass it or kick it. If a forward, often just two of those choices. When isolated in your own half with several white shirts closing you down furiously, kicking is often a good choice. The fact Saints did it badly more often than not is another matter entirely. The bad kicks were Foden three, (he can’t be the Messiah then)  Elliott and Waldouk (nope no Messiahs there then). Lamb got charged down once and then put one glorious kick over Trimble’s head to groans from a large section of the crowd. I had to check it back on TV to assure myself that I was watching the same kick.

Anyhow Saints went in for their half time cuppa still within one score and very much in the game. But this was to change shortly after the restart. Lamb put through a good up and under that for once was chased adequately by Pisi and Elliott. But Pisi overran it and Elliott was short giving Ulster possession. Saints scrambled well and looked to have salvaged the situation. Ulster however are playing with great confidence and they regrouped and maintained the attack. Two phases later Jared Payne crossed for a truly great try, making  a very good full back look very ordinary in the process and it really was game over. From that moment on Saints had to chase the game. Ulster could give the penalties away knowing they wouldn’t be kicked for goal but run or put into touch looking for the score that would put Saints into the game.

Contrary to many “supporters” views chase it they did. Elliott came closest being held up over the line. Pisi’s (Ken) run following a swift interception was hauled down by the impressive Pienaar, May dropped a sharp pass from Dixon with the line begging, Trimble intercepted a cunning blind side break from Dixon and the Ulster defence performed miracles both legally and illegally. The yellow card on 71 mins came far too late to be of any real assistance. Myler was introduced after 60mins to great cheers from some loyal followers. Is he the Messiah ? Unlikely. Over the course of the game the Saints backs also made some handling errors in their urgency to create . It was Pisi (George) who was the chief culprit here; he’s not the Messiah then.

And finally with the Saints resolve finally broken Ulster rubbed salt into the their wounds with a final excellently constructed try.

So where is the Messiah ? Is it a “world class ten” ? I doubt it. Is it a new backs, defence, tactical kicking coach ? This will help but as we already know it is not the saving Grays. No. The only true Messiah favours no-one. He (or she) loves the Sinners (and the Irish) just as much as the Saints and praying for a win will do no more good than jumping up and down , stamping your feet and crying “it’s just not good enough”. The only thing that improves a rugby team’s performances is solid hard graft. As Dylan says "We're gutted, We pride ourselves on our physicality and how we play at home. But you've got to turn up and we didn't do that. That was not good enough from us. We speak about intensity, they brought bags of it and we didn't bring enough. "They are unbeaten and they showed why. They are a good team but we made them look better than it could have been.

"We've got a massive challenge next week but anything's possible."

At the end of the game I shook the Ulstermen’s hands and congratulated them on a well earned victory, It was their day. As depressing as it is,  I wish more people would respect this. Respect the opposition when they out play you rather than simply blaming your own team’s inadequacies. But then perhaps I’m old fashioned. (I still hold doors open for people)

Time to look forward and concentrate on what is possible. Use next week to restore pride and then take that into the two huge games to follow in the league. Maybe , with some support (come on you remember that don’t you  ? It’s where you get behind the team when they need it, not just when they are winning) there could still be a trophy to be won. Not the HC admittedly but there is still a big one that the Saints have never won.

TIMELINE

3mins SAINTS Miss pen Lamb

9mins ULSTER Try Trimble 0-5

12mins SAINTS Miss pen Lamb

16mins ULSTER Miss pen Jackson

20mins SAINTS Pen Lamb 3-5

23mins ULSTER Pen Jackson 3-8

25mins SAINTS Miss DG Lamb

26mins SAINTS Miss pen Lamb

33mins ULSTER Try Bowe 3-13

40mins SAINTS Pen Lamb 6-13

HALF-TIME SAINTS 6 ULSTER 13

44mins ULSTER Try Payne Con Jackson 6-20

48mins ULSTER Miss pen Jackson

71mins ULSTER Yellow card Henderson

78mins ULSTER Try Tuohy 6-25

FULL-TIME SAINTS 6 ULSTER 25

 

 

 Jim Says:

 

 

 

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ComeOnYouSaints.com
ComeOnYouSaints.com (IP Logged)

News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 00:05
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
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MESSAGES->author
St Marlowe (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 00:09
A very good and measured report Malcolm. Not easy to write. Thank you.

David L

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

- Live wrong and preposterously

 
OneOfTheGirlz
Ugly (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 01:12
I remember it well Howlin.
An outstanding commentary - thanks.
But I remember it differently.
Hopeful, bemused, quiet, frustrated, angry
The 5 stages of grief is closer...

Just because you're born in a stable - it doesn't make you a horse...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:12:09:01:15:04 by Ugly.

 
Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 06:47
Well said H. On 'that' kick you refer to. Most of c block moaned and groaned. I was bewildered it was probably the best tactical kick of the night. 13000 experts 90% don't know their synovial hinge joint from their waste disposal orifice.

No alcohol for January. I'm a dryathlete in aid of cancer research.

Dryathlon

 
glorydayz
glorydayz (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 08:45
Great report - it has put some perspective on events.Not sure I could have been as even handed as I felt somewhat humiliated and hurt at Saints performance immediately after the match.But Ulster were a very good side and fully deserved the victory.

alive and well in Shrubbery Terrace

 
MESSAGES->author
St_Bart (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 08:55
At last, a balanced view! Encapsulated what I thought of the game perfectly.
thumbs down

 
St Owen
St Owen (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 10:01
A good report. It truely was an exceptional performance by Ulster, but we were found wanting.

You can't always get what you want, But if you try sometimes well you might find, You get what you need.

Richards/Jagger

 
Edmund Farfalla
Edmund Farfalla (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 10:09
Quote:
St Rich
Well said H. On 'that' kick you refer to. Most of c block moaned and groaned. I was bewildered it was probably the best tactical kick of the night. 13000 experts 90% don't know their synovial hinge joint from their waste disposal orifice.

It is good to know that at least one poster here is pompous enough to consider himself in the minority 10%

 
MESSAGES->author
OldPete (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 10:16
Thank you for that one Malcolm - amongst all the hysteria and calls for heads to role - a voice speaking out for reason and perspective.

Oh and also how to accept defeat with good grace.

 
MESSAGES->author
ChrisG (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 10:26
Top stuff Sir!

 
Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 13:19
(Sm156)

No alcohol for January. I'm a dryathlete in aid of cancer research.

Dryathlon

 
SAINT_aitch
SAINT_aitch (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 13:24
Yeah once again Malc you managed to sum up the game, the atmosphere and the psychological stuff happening in the background. Well read and will writ.

A tough game to watch and a tougher one to report on.

I'll be there next week to cheer the lads on come hell or high water.

 
MESSAGES->author
skybluesaint (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 18:31
Quote:
Edmund Farfalla
Quote:
St Rich
Well said H. On 'that' kick you refer to. Most of c block moaned and groaned. I was bewildered it was probably the best tactical kick of the night. 13000 experts 90% don't know their synovial hinge joint from their waste disposal orifice.

It is good to know that at least one poster here is pompous enough to consider himself in the minority 10%

Me and the wife were also in that 10%.

Pompous, moi?

Actually, i think the moans were at the kick itself, and the result stifled them. But one poor kick (by someone else) was returned by their no.15 from a tight angle into touch inside our 22. That was the line-out we lost and which resulted in their second try.

Excellent report anyway, many thanks.

 
Connect
Connect (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 18:35
A balenced report, thank you Malcolm.

I am over my disapointment of Friday night, amd will really get behind the team, and shout my head off in Belfast next week!

 
Flinstone Saint
Flinstone Saint (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 19:05
Many thanks for the report, Howlin. As said before, difficult one to write.

Can't say I'm over my disappointment of Friday night but I too will be there in Belfast, shouting my head off supporting the team once again. As always, I will go in hope rather than expectation.

 
Maverick1
Phil. (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 19:45
A fine, well-balanced piece of work that, H.

It was a pleasure (if that's the right word in the circumstances!) to read.

Thank you.

 
Christoff
smitferbrainz (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 21:56
Great review of the game. Made me feel better about what happened. I had a great time with Ulster fans, shook many hands and all of the owners wished us good luck for the return. We were still well in it at HT and we need to stay in it for enough time next weekend to put ourselves in a position to win it. I'd love to see us go for it big time. Most of us i think expect us to lose so why not try to break the shackles and go for it.

 
riverlodge
riverlodge (IP Logged)

Re: News: Saints v Ulster Heineken Cup pool 4 Round 3 Report
09/12/2012 22:21
great report, as said by many above it puts into print the frustration of friday - but also admiration for a fighting ulster team.

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