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Saints stall in front of watching Eddie Jones

Published 18/12/2015

England head coach Eddie Jones had to sit through a tight match
England head coach Eddie Jones had to sit through a tight match

Northampton's England contingent failed to make an impression as Eddie Jones resumed his busy pre-Christmas scouting tour of the Aviva Premiership clubs.

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 just before the half hour mark.

Luther Burrell made little headway against Racing's midfield and his game does not fit the mould of playmaking 12 favoured by Jones, while lock Courtney Lawes was inconspicuous throughout.

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.

Dylan Hartley continues to be sidelined by concussion and with a date for his return yet to be the set, the hooker is running out of time to demonstrate why he has been identified by Jones as Chris Robshaw's successor as England captain.

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.

One promising moment saw Saints attack the 22 after a successful counter-ruck, but the spark of creativity needed to force an opening was missing and Racing could defend with ease.

Racing looked to finish the half with a flourish as they attacked through their big forwards, but were turned over once again.

Inside centre 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.

Carter's goalline clearance was charged down by George Pisi and fell into the arms of wing Jamie Elliott, but furious scrambling defence from Racing kept their whitewash intact.

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

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