Lawes and Freeman Drive Northampton to Champions Cup

Tommy Freeman scored two tries as Northampton opened their Champions Cup campaign with a 28-19 away win with three tries against Glasgow.

The Warriors had only been overcome at home once in the last two years, but they were clearly second best as the Saints rallied from an early deficit and got a deserved win. Glasgow also scored three tries of their own, which made Northampton’s superior kicking the difference between the teams.

“I’m really pleased,” said Phil Dowson, Northampton’s director of rugby. “We don’t want to overwhelm this group when it comes to making up the story, but we knew we had to be better in this tournament, and I thought, especially in the first half, we were excellent tonight. We were good at the breakdown again, we didn’t give away too many penalties and we also showed a really good physique.”

There was a after change in substitutions at home, with Nathan McBeth taking the place of new dad Oli Kebble, while Matt Fagerson celebrated his 100th birthday.

England scrum-half Alex Mitchell returned to Northampton alongside wing George Hendy, while Fin Smith, who is eligible to play for Scotland or England, started as a fly-half for the visitors.

Glasgow took the lead after five minutes. It was a moment to forget for Mitchell, whose intended pass to Hendy was intercepted by Sebastian Cancelliere. The Argentine winger ran out of his own half before scoring for the try. Tom Jordan couldn’t add the extras.

However, Northampton recovered quickly and had built up a superior lead at half-time after scoring three tries and adding a penalty from Smith. The first was from Courtney Lawes, the England veteran, who received a pass from Smith and shook off Sean Kennedy’s attempted goal.

The Saints kept up the pressure and it wasn’t long before they were back across the finish line. This time, Freeman was the scorer, completing a period of goal pressure applied after receiving a pass from Smith.

The Warriors were then temporarily reduced to 14 men when it was decided Scott Cummings had not jumped straight into the line-up before landing on Alex Waller, who was undergoing a head issue check and did not return. Northampton made the most of the man advantage, George Furbank setting up Freeman, who rounded the post for his second try of the match.

Glasgow swapped scrum-halves at half-time, Ben Afshar for Kennedy, then switched to three players soon after to regain a foothold in the competition. However, it did not change the matter when Smith imposed two more penalties to increase the Saints’ lead and take the game away from them.

Warriors finally gave their supporters something to cheer about when Ollie Smith ran onto his own chipkick to score a goal before the home side were awarded a penalty try. But the Saints held on tight for a decisive victory.

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