Little to impress Eddie Jones as Northampton Saints lack spark

Northampton 9 Racing 92 9: Northampton’s England contingent failed to make an impression as Eddie Jones resumed his busy pre-Christmas scouting tour of the Aviva Premiership clubs last night.

Little to impress Eddie Jones as Northampton Saints lack spark

Jones, who visits Wasps and Leicester over the next two days of European action, was present at Franklin’s Gardens to watch Saints’ hopes of reaching the Champions Cup knockout phase dented by a dour 9-9 draw with Racing Metro.

The most frustrated of those hoping to catch his eye must have been Kieran Brookes, the in-form tighthead who limped off before the interval.

Luther Burrell made little headway against Racing’s midfield, Tom Wood was missing with a shoulder injury and there was nothing from fringe contenders Ben Foden, Stephen Myler and Lee Dickson to argue for their return to the Red Rose fold.

Racing cemented their place at the summit of Pool Three through three penalties from Dan Carter, whose right leg was heavily strapped, and the Parisians still have a game in hand on closest rivals Northampton.

Myler kicked all of Saints’ points in a poor spectacle full of attrition and grunt, but lacking in quality.

Northampton’s former South Africa lock Victor Matfield was prominent early on with a couple of runs in wide channels, but it was an otherwise dismal first half that was short on highlights.

Henry Chavancy burst through, was stopped by Lee Dickson and when the referee Nigel Owens blew for a Northampton penalty the Saints scrum-half engaged in a shoving match with opposite number Mike Phillips before the two were separated.

Two penalties from Carter gave Racing a 6-3 interval lead and as the final quarter loomed the score only read 9-6 to the Top 14 club, Myler missing one opportunity to take the lead.

A late shoulder barge by Alex Waller on Carter sparked a period of shoving as the clock ticked down Northampton started to build pressure.

Myler’s third penalty levelled the score and neither side were able to end the stalemate.

Scorers for Northampton:

Pens: Myler 3.

NORTHAMPTON:

Foden, Tuala, G. Pisi, Burrell, North, Myler, L. Dickson, A. Waller, Haywood, Brookes, Lawes, Matfield, Gibson, Harrison, S. Dickinson.

Replacements:

Hanrahan for G. Pisi (71), Fotuali’i for L. Dickson (52), E. Waller for A. Waller (65), C. Day for Matfield (52), Williams for Harrison (74).

Scorers for Racing 92:

Pens:

Carter 3

RACING 92:

Dulin, Rokocoko, Laulala, Chavancy, Imhoff, Carter, Phillips, Ben Arous, Szarzewski, Tameifuna, Charteris, Van Der Merwe, Lauret, Nyanga, Masoe.

Replacements:

Andreu for Rokocoko (59), Machenaud for Phillips (48), Brugnaut for Ben Arous (59), Chat for Szarzewski (61), Carizza for Van Der Merwe (65), Claassen for Masoe (75).

Ref:

Nigel Owens (Wales).

European Rugby Challenge Cup Pool 5:

Edinburgh 18 London Irish 15; Grenoble 48 Agen 45

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