- France - Heineken Cup - rugby - UK
AFP - Stephen Myler kicked five penalties to help English Premiership club Northampton to a 15-3 victory over French rivals Bourgoin in the European Challenge Cup final here on Friday.
The victory guarantees Northampton a spot in next season's European Cup, the showcase club rugby tournament on the continent, at the expense of London Wasps. The result also means that Brive will qualify for the Cup tournament.
In an ill-tempered game in which Irish referee George Clancy showed two yellow cards and one red card, Bourgoin's sole score came from a penalty from Clermont-bound scrum-half Morgan Parra.
Parra seemingly sustained a nasty injury late in the game when clattered by Northampton replacement Courtney Lawes.
In the ensuing retribution, Clancy rightly red carded Thomas Genevois for landing two smart punches on Lawes, with South Africa-bound Lions prop Euan Murray also sustaining a punch to the face in the fracas.
Northampton, who were only promoted back to the English Premiership this season, dominated the French side for long periods of the game.
Myler hit two penalties in the first quarter but Parra hit back with seven minutes of the first-half remaining.
Parra and flanker Neil Best were then both sin-binned after one of a number of dust-ups in a hugely physical game.
Myler nailed a third long-distance penalty to hand the English club a 9-3 half-time lead as Bourgoin outside-half Benjamin Boyet saw a drop-goal fall just short on the whistle.
Myler booted his fourth three-pointer nine minutes after the break but then saw a drop-goal effort drift wide.
As the teams waned after the immense physical confrontration of the first 55 minutes, Myler saw a second drop-goal effort drift left of the posts, but redeemed himself a minute later with a fifth successful penalty.