Glasgow 15

Northampton 35

Former European champions Northampton gained revenge for last term's pre-season defeat by the then Glasgow Caley Reds and grabbed a psychological boost ahead of their European Cup visit to Glasgow later in the season as they cruised to a

comfortable win last night.

In doing so they demonstrated a keen ability to learn from their mistakes having, at Franklin's Gardens 12 months earlier been in full control at the interval only to make too many changes at the break and lose the match.

This time it was Glasgow who, having set out with a youthful XV showed greater inclination to make changes, largely in a bid to save face just three days ahead of their first ever Celtic League match against Leinster in Dublin.

Consequently Richie Dixon, their coach, was undaunted, putting the scale of the first half deficit down to his side's lack of experience.

''That was a fixture that would have been easy to duck out of considering that we face Leinster on Friday,'' he said.

''It was a pretty young side, but they are not going to get better unless we give them a chance to play, though if it wasn't for the Leinster game I wouldn't have envisaged putting out so many youngsters in the back line.

''It was a game in which it would have been very easy to be submerged, though and they showed real spirit,'' he went on, his phraseology particularly apt on an evening of steady rain.

Certainly the home side had the better of the closing stages once some of their established performers took the field, but it was hardly a performance to instil confidence in locals, around 500 of whom turned out hoping to witness a dress rehearsal for a breakthrough season on the professional scene.

Northampton had the first points on the board within two minutes and, despite the famed Scottish influence at Franklin's Gardens, they could not have been registered in more time honoured traditional English fashion.

Awarded a penalty just inside the Glasgow half, Hepher duly fired it down the touch-line and deep into the 22 from where Jon Phillips made a clean lineout catch and the rolling maul was set-up, Steve Thompson touching down as they drove over, barely inconvenienced by the home pack on the way.

The game's second charge down then turned out to be more fruitful than the first as John Leslie prevented Barry Irving from getting the ball away and, after Iain McInroy failed to gather the ball, Mark Tucker fell on the ball as it crossed the line.

Almost from the re-start Leslie got himself on the score-sheet, running a superb diagonal angle from the middle of the pitch to the right corner where he slid in despite Rory Kerr's attentions to take full advantage of Hepher's break.

Hepher was also making light of the conditions with a fine exhibition of goal-kicking and again hit the target later in the half after Andrew Blowers grabbed the ball and reached over after Black and Gareth Flockhart got into a fankle at the base of a close-range ruck.

As if to underline the home side's difficulties, Jon Steel - formerly of Northampton since when he became a Scottish internationalist - accidentally headed the ball into touch as he attempted to prevent the ball going out.

Given the nature of the game there was some disquiet among the spectators when the home side opted to kick for goal from under the posts when 28-0 down, Barry Irving opening their account.

Glasgow's previous scoring attempts having been confined to a couple of forays inside the Saints' 22 which resulted in men knocking the ball on, the decision to take the points was perhaps understandable.

As the half petered out two further shots at goal, the decision to go for which in itself seemed to show a lack of conviction, were put wide by the stand-off.

In the second half Glasgow were presented with the chance to make an impact as Mike Hall, Boroughmuir's 1990 Scottish title-winning captain and now aspiring referee, demonstrated his lack of respect for reputations by yellow-carding first Pountney, then Olivier Brouzet the French international lock.

During the brief spell the

visitors were down to 13 men Glasgow finally crossed the try-line, Ian McInroy kicking to the left flank for Rory Kerr to take advantage of the stretched defence, and run into the corner.

However, after Pountney's return former Scotland skipper John Leslie demonstrated his awareness by spotting the chance to kick wide for Luca Martin.

The Italian winger was stopped but managed to release the ball to Nick Beal who was able to go over in the corner.

Glasgow, however, then brought on a veritable posse of internationalists in Tommy Hayes, Gordon Simpson and Jon Petrie and they duly lifted their game, Kerr producing an impressive injection of pace to break the line at close range and force his way over on the right.

Glasgow R Kerr; J Steel, I McInroy, A Henderson, J Craig; B Irving, C Black; G Sykes, G Scott, L Harrison, C Stewart, N Ross, R Reid, D Macfadyen, G Flockhart. Subs used: B Prescott, A Hall, G Bulloch, G Perrett, G Simpson, T Hayes, J Petrie, R Reid

Northampton Saints N Beal; , L Martin, M Tucker, J Leslie, C Moir; A Hepher, J Howard; C Budgen, S Thompson, M Stewart, J Phillips, O Brouzet, A Blowers, B Pountney, M Soden. Subs used: R Hunter, P Grayson, C Hyndman, I Vass, S Brotherstone

Referee: M Hall (Boroughmuir)

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first) 0-7,0-14,0-21,0-28,3-28(half-time); 8-28,8-35,15-35

Scorers Glasgow - tries - Kerr (57,70); con - Hayes (70); pen - Irving (34). Saints - tries - Thompson (2), Tucker (6), Leslie (8), Blowers (27), Beal (64); cons - Hepher (2,6,8,27,64).