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Saints into final

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Steve Myler

Steve Myler

Steve Myler

Northampton reached their first Heineken Cup final for 11 years after pummelling sole French survivors Perpignan 23-7 in the Milton Keynes sunshine.

The Saints booked a Millennium Stadium appointment with 2009 European champions Leinster on May 21, keeping alive hopes of a first English tournament winner since Wasps four years ago.

England full-back Ben Foden gave Northampton momentum through a 15th-minute try, and when centre Jon Clarke touched down midway through the second quarter, Perpignan had no way back.

Hooker Guilhem Guirado offered them a glimmer of hope after he touched down just before the break, yet it proved a predictable false dawn as Saints turned the screw up front.

Fly-half Stephen Myler kicked three penalties and two conversions for a 13-point haul, maintaining Northampton's hopes of a European and domestic double.

They will secure an Aviva Premiership play-off place by beating relegation favourites Leeds Carnegie at Franklin's Gardens next weekend.

Perpignan offered glimpses of their menacing physical presence and silky running, but at 20-0 behind after 37 minutes the Catalans gave themselves an insurmountable mountain to climb.

And even on the relatively unfamiliar territory of stadium:mk, Northampton were far too good a side to blow such an advantage, leaving France's wealthy club game without a Heineken final representative for the third time in five seasons.

Northampton's key players all came to the party - Foden, Myler, mighty prop Soane Tonga'uiha, flanker Phil Dowson and number eight Roger Wilson delivering huge displays amid the rarefied atmosphere of a European semi-final.

Saints smashed Perpignan 34-0 when they visited the east midlands during last season's Heineken pool stage, and although they avoided a defeat of such magnitude, there was never any serious threat of an away win.

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