Four for North as Saints smash Ospreys

GET IN THERE! - George North celebrates his first try against Ospreys (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
GET IN THERE! - George North celebrates his first try against Ospreys (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
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It was a fantastic four for George North as the Wales wing’s quartet of tries secured a superb 34-6 Champions Cup win for Saints against Ospreys at Franklin‘s Gardens.

North was ruthless in taking the chances that came his way, with the former Scarlets wing revelling in his reunion with his countrymen.

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182920009

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182920009

It handed Saints a priceless five points in their battle for Pool 5 supremacy as they bounced back from the 20-11 defeat at Racing Metro with a bang.

Stephen Myler, celebrating his England call-up by putting in a fine performance, garnished the win with 14 points, refusing to miss on a night his opposite number, Dan Biggar, was wayward with the boot.

Biggar did manage two penalties for Ospreys but missed three further chances from the tee on a night when his team struggled to cope with the dominance of their English opponents.

It was dominance crowned by North’s final score, as the 22-year-old behemoth hunted down his own grubber kick to huge acclaim from the home fans.

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182841009

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182841009

That meant it was job done at the Gardens, where the night began with a show of affection for Samu Manoa, who was making his 100th appearance for Saints.

The popular American, who had been linked with Toulon in the build-up to the game, trotted onto the pitch 10 seconds before his team-mates to a warm round of applause.

The traditional chants of ‘oh Samu Manoa’ rang out and Manoa was soon collecting Biggar’s kick-off as Ospreys got the game underway.

Saints squeezed a penalty out of the opening scrum battle and they proceeded to earn a penalty that Myler slotted with his standard ease.

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182858009

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182858009

Ospreys had begun the game firmly on the back foot, but they snapped into life on nine minutes as Biggar scythed through the home defence, helping to earn a penalty.

The fly-half kicked it to restore parity and it was to be a double blow for Saints as James Wilson, who had made an awkward-looking tackle in the build-up, was forced off.

Nevertheless, the home side, with Elliott now on the left wing and North in the centre, pushed on, with only an errant Foden pass denying Pisi a score.

Saints didn’t have to wait long for their first try though as Myler’s lofted pass released North out wide and the Wales star made no mistake.

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182942009

Northampton Saints v Ospreys. NNL-141025-182942009

Myler added the extras and the men in charcoal grey were soon threatening again, with Christian Day dotting down, only to see the score ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up.

And the TMO was soon playing the pantomime villain once again, ruling out another Saints score for a forward pass from Ben Foden, who, under no pressure, had set up Dylan Hartley.

Ospreys were struggling to get out and even when they did, Calum Clark was there, grafting on the ground, turning the ball over brilliantly at the breakdown.

Saints were relentless and they soon had the second try they had worked so hard to create.

It was North again, sniffing out a score, as he latched on to an inside pass from the fleet-footed Ken Pisi and charged through a couple of limp challenges to score.

The Gardens faithful were on their feet and Myler added to the feverish Saturday night atmosphere with another well-struck conversion.

Biggar missed the chance to respond from the tee with the final kick of the first-half and Ospreys headed in knowing they had plenty of rebuilding to do.

They were handed an early boost in the second half as Saints lost Luther Burrell to a hand injury.

But Biggar was soon errant from the tee again, firing his penalty wide to spark cheers from the home fans.

The Welsh 10 was getting plenty of opportunities though, and he did make one count on 47 minutes as the away side continued their improvement.

Saints were shedding penalties as a rapid rate, but Biggar was misfiring, missing his second penalty of the half as the ball rebounded off the left upright.

And the clinical North soon made them pay, with the Wales juggernaut using his muscle to secure his hat-trick of the season.

Myler added the extras and Saints’ sights were firmly set on a vital bonus-point win against an Ospreys side who had already claimed one against Treviso.

After cleaning up at one end, North was soon clearing up at the other, beating Biggar to the ball as the Ospreys fly-half chased his own kick ahead.

And the gargantuan Saints wing was not done there, with his heroics capped by a fourth score.

North kicked ahead and beat three Ospreys players to the ball to ensure it was a happy ending to a hugely impressive Saints performance.

Saints: Foden; K Pisi, Wilson (Elliott 9), Burrell (Hooley 42), North; Myler, L Dickson (Fotuali’i 58); A Waller (E Waller 74), Hartley (c) (Haywood 63), Ma’afu (Denman 56); Lawes, C Day (Craig 54); Clark (Dowson 71), Wood, Manoa.

Ospreys: Evans; Grabham, Hassler, Matavesi, Dirksen; Biggar, Webb; Smith (Jones 63), Baldwin, Arhip (Jarvis 60); Peers (Bernardo 63), Wyn-Jones (c); King, Tipuric, Bearman (Allen 40 (Lewis 75)).

Replacements not used: Parry, Roberts, Davies.

Referee: Romain Poite