Saints see off Glasgow to finish pre-season with 100 per cent record

Saints finished their pre-season campaign with a 100 per cent record as they fought their way to a 41-15 victory against Glasgow Warriors on Friday night.

Friday, 24th August 2018, 10:21 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2018, 12:15 pm
Ahsee Tuala made his first pre-season appearance of the summer as he started at full-back (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

James Haskell bagged a try on his Franklin's Gardens bow, and there were further efforts from James Fish, Cobus Reinach (2), Ken Pisi and James Grayson as well as a penalty try.

But there were injury concerns over Dan Biggar and Rory Hutchinson, who were both forced off inside the opening five minutes of the match.

In better news, Harry Mallinder and Dylan Hartley were able to make their return from the bench, and so was Jamal Ford-Robinson.

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Teimana Harrison started at No.8

Saints had won both of their previous two pre-season matches under new boss Chris Boyd, beating Ospreys and the Dragons in Wales.

And there was plenty of anticipation at the Gardens as Boyd took charge of his first home game.

The evening didn't start on a high note though as there was injury anxiety inside just two minutes.

Biggar masterminded a slick attack but took a whack for his troubles and was down for some time.

Franklin's Gardens provided a picturesque setting for Saints' final pre-season friendly

The Wales fly-half eventually managed to walk from the field for a head injury assessment, with Grayson into the action early on.

But while Biggar's first Saints appearance at the Gardens didn't start well, another new boy, flanker Haskell, had the dream beginning, scoring three minutes later.

The ball was propelled rapidly from right to left and Haskell popped up on the wing, diving in for his first try in the black, green and gold.

Grayson missed the conversion and there was another injury issue that came during the build-up to the try as centre Hutchinson had to be helped from the field, with Luther Burrell his replacement.

Glasgow pushed forward in search of a try to level things up but after Saints stood tall, Warriors scrum-half George Horne was yellow carded for dissent.

And it wasn't long before another Glasgow player was heading for the sin bin as Northampton-born full-back Ruaridh Jackson was penalised for a deliberate knock-on and Saints were given the penalty try.

But Glasgow, despite being down to 13 men, fought back, inspired by flying Fijian Niko Matawalu.

The wing, who tormented Saints in a Champions Cup clash at Scotstoun back in 2013, superbly created a score for Tommy Seymour to cut the gap to seven points, but the conversion was missed.

Saints went on to put together a trademark lineout drive and hooker Fish swam forward to score his sixth try in just three pre-season games.

Grayson missed the conversion and Glasgow responded immediately, using the referee's advantage well to send Matawalu over.

It looked like the Glasgow man might not have got the ball down, but with no TMO to use, the try was given.

Adam Hastings again missed the conversion and there was still time for Saints to score again.

Tom Collins superbly grubbered the ball through for Burrell and after the centre gathered, the ball was worked to Reinach who reached out to score.

Grayson again missed from the tee, but Saints held a deserved 22-10 lead at half-time.

And they extended that advantage just after the break as some Samoan style provided their fifth score.

Ahsee Tuala, making his first pre-season appearance, offloaded to Pisi, who finished the move in the corner, but again the conversion was missed.

Grayson did manage to hit the target on 55 minutes though, adding the extras to Reinach's second try of the night.

Saints were then boosted by the return to action of full-back Mallinder, who entered the fray for the final 25 minutes.

England skipper Hartley also returned to action five minutes later, making his first appearance in Saints colours since January.

The game looked to be petering out but a fine finish from wing DTH van der Merwe helped Glasgow to give the scoreline a more respectable look.

But Saints had the final say, putting the pressure on from a lineout, allowing Grayson to pick up the pieces and sidestep his way over the line.

He converted his own try to put the seal on proceedings as Saints' sights sharpened on the Gallagher Premiership opener at Gloucester next Saturday.

Saints: Tuala (Mallinder 55); Pisi (Tuitavake 28), Hutchinson (Burrell 5 (Pisi 40 (Collins 75)), Francis (Burrell 55), Collins (Sleightholme 40); Biggar (Grayson 2), Reinach (Mitchell 55); Waller (c) (Davis 40 (van Wyk 60)), Fish (Haywood 40 (Hartley 60)), Franks (Ford-Robinson 40 (Painter 60)); Ribbans (Ratuniyarawa 40), Lawes (Moon 60); Haskell (Gibson 40), Brüssow (Ludlam 40), Harrison (Eadie 40).

Glasgow Warriors: Jackson; Seymour, Dunbar, Johnson, Matawalu; Hastings, Horne; Bhatti, Turner, Rae; Cummings, Peterson; Harley, Gibbins, Wilson (c).

Replacements: Bryce, Stewart, Allan, Kebble, Nicol, Davison, Smith, Ashe, Frisby, Thomason, Kelly, Grigg, van der Merwe, Hughes.

Referee: Christophe Ridley

Attendance: 6,833