Stringer's winning bow as upsets flow
Published 12/12/2011 | 05:00
Glasgow Warriors ground out an attritional 20-15 win over Montpellier to move second behind Leinster in Pool 3 yesterday -- the Scottish side have now won six of their last seven home Heineken Cup games -- as Rory Lamont made his first appearance since re-signing for the team.
Tempers flared in cold conditions, with three players sin-binned inside the first half -- two for Montpellier and one for Glasgow.
When Jon Welsh was yellow-carded, Montpellier made their extra man count with Eric Escande cleverly breaking from the base of the scrum to touch down under the posts.
But Glasgow got a foothold through the boot of Duncan Weir, and led 12-10 at the break.
A similarly scrappy second period ensued before a slick backline move ended in Federico Aramburu touching down in the corner for the hosts with six minutes left.
The French side rallied late on to earn a losing bonus point courtesy of a Masi Matadigo try and will host the return fixture next week bidding to haul themselves off the foot of Pool 3.
Northampton head coach Jim Mallinder has admitted that his side are now "playing for pride" after Saturday's 41-22 Pool 1 defeat at Castres dumped them out of the tournament, with his young side struggling to replace the suspended Chris Ashton and Phil Dowson.
Last year's finalists also struggled with indiscipline, and had Stephen Myler and Tom Wood sin-binned, something that Mallinder took exception to. He said: "I don't want to question the referees but we have had the same problem against Munster, we just aren't getting the decisions at the moment."
London Irish boss Toby Booth spoke of his delight after his side's second-half 34-14 comeback at Racing Metro in Pool 2. He said: "I couldn't have asked for more. It's shown our very young side that we can compete with the best."
Having trailed 14-3, the Exiles went on to score four tries, including two from Adam Thompstone, to claim a bonus point.
Peter Stringer (below) made a winning start to his Saracens career after coming off the bench in the London club's crucial 31-26 win over the Ospreys in Pool 5.
The on-loan Munster scrum-half was introduced for the final 20 minutes as the Welsh region secured a losing bonus point in front of more than 40,000 spectators at Wembley thanks to a late Dan Biggar penalty.
With the return fixture down for decision on Friday, that bonus could yet prove vital after Treviso caused a shock by beating Biarritz.
Stringer's new side were 23-13 up at the break, with Owen Farrell grabbing 16 points in a display that will add to clamours for him to be included in England's Six Nations squad, where his father Andy is part of the coaching team under acting head-coach Stuart Lancaster.
However, the youngster, who operated at both centre and out-half on Saturday, wasn't looking that far ahead.
"I just focus on the task ahead of me and keep trying to get better every week, and if anything else comes it will be a massive bonus," Farrell said. "You try and get better every day you go into training. That's what you focus on. It's about what can you do to ultimately help the team.
"It's exciting for me because he's my dad. It's a massive achievement for him to be recognised for all the good work he has been putting in.
"It's a good thing him taking it and I hope he does well.
"It was a massive decision for him because the club comes first in his eyes."