The Mail on Sunday

Foden class rescues Saints

- By Paul Morgan

A PIECE of Ben Foden magic virtually guaranteed Northampto­n a place in the play-offs.

The England full-back swooped three minutes from time at Headingley to rescue the Saints but, even in defeat, Leeds moved a step closer to Premiershi­p survival and a £1million jackpot.

With Northampto­n leading 9-7, Bruce Reihana collected a clever Stephen Myler cross-field kick and Foden did a sensationa­l job of reading Reihana’s grubber to collect the ball and dive over.

‘Ben is a class act, such a dangerous player,’ said Sale director of rugby Jim Mallinder. ‘I’m just glad he’s on our side — he was a danger throughout. We are disappoint­ed with our overall performanc­e, but as Leeds are playing well, we came here to get a job done and simply get the win.’

With four games left, Northampto­n’s win sees them 16 points clear of fifth-placed Wasps, while Leeds are now three ahead of bottom side Worcester.

If Leeds stay in the Premiershi­p, they become a major shareholde­r — a status that will earn them an additional £1 million a season in funding from Premier Rugby.

The Saints have won three of their last four away games in the Premiershi­p. But they gambled on a raft of changes from last week’s league win over Wasps and, for more than an hour, it looked like it had back-fired as Leeds led 7-6.

Leeds coach Andy Key said: ‘We did enough to win the game, although we made too many errors, and in the end we beat ourselves. But we are confident we’ll still be in the Premiershi­p next season.’

Northampto­n now head to Munster for a Heineken Cup quarter-final — and know if they play like this it will be the Irish side going through to the semi-finals.

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