Former Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd took little comfort from Northampton's bonus-point victory over Benetton on Sunday, deriding it as a "disgustingly dreadful performance" even though it keeps his side's hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions' Cup alive.

It also appeared to be a wasted journey to Franklin's Gardens for Eddie Jones, the England head coach, who was understood to be keen to run his eye over the Northampton full-back George Furbank and lock David Ribbans.

Furbank was forced to withdraw from the contest after aggravating a groin injury during the warm-up while Ribbans was forced off after just 15 minutes with an ankle injury.

Courtney Lawes, the England second row, also did not reappear for the second half, but that was due to the effects of a stomach illness that had prevented him from eating for the previous 24 hours, rather than an injury scare.


The five-try victory means that Northampton will travel to Lyon on Saturday in the final round of the pool stages, knowing that they must at least better the match points of Gloucester and Saracens to qualify as one of the two best-placed runners-up.

Yet Boyd was scathing of the display, claiming that his players had not shown enough respect to the Italian side, who until the final quarter at least, had threatened to cause a major upset when they led 20-19 going into the final 10 minutes before tries by Fraser Dingwall and Andy Symons put an undeserved gloss on the scoreboard for Northampton.

Harry Mallinder, making an emotional return after 15 months out of the game with a knee injury, had given Northampton the perfect start with a try after just six minutes, but his side had failed to capitalise, undone by a faltering lineout and an accumulation of errors which saw a number of try-scoring opportunities squandered.

"That was a disgustingly dreadful performance, I apologise to everyone for that," said Boyd, Northampton's director of rugby. "It was a horrible game. I don't think we showed respect for the game and I don't think we showed respect to the opposition.

"Clearly the plan was to come here and get five points to keep us alive in Europe.

"The danger when you talk to a team about scoring five points and getting four tries is that every time they get the ball they think they need to score a try and all the fundamentals and basics go out of the game.

"I would hate to think of how many times during the week we talked about that the thing needs to be built upon a solid foundation of basic performance. Anybody who had any respect for the game would be horrified by that performance."

Boyd had taken the decision to rest key players such as Dan Biggar, Alex Waller, Tom Wood and Ahsee Tuala as part of a "rest rotation and regeneration" policy and felt their omission had led to a "perfect storm" in terms of missing decision-makers and standard-bearers.


Northampton's sloppiness had allowed Benetton to take the lead even when down to 14 men in the first half when Charly Trussardi was sent to the sin bin, with a penalty by Tommaso Allan and try by Tommaso Benvenuti, who picked off a pass by prop Francois van Wyk to run in from 45 metres, giving the Italians a 10-5 led at the interval.

Northampton, despite missing Lawes, opened the second-half with greater gusto, with scrum-half Henry Taylor sniping for a try but again could not sustain their intensity, with the Treviso side regaining the lead from a try by Hame Faiva, who powered over from close range.

The defining period of the contest followed, when a penalty in front of the posts for Benetton was reserved when the television match official spotted that Jayden Hayward had been guilty of a neck-roll on Lewis Ludlam.

And when a scrum was collapsed moments later, and Benetton were handed another penalty, Allan then squandered the opportunity to go eight points in front as he was off-target.

From the restart, Benetton conceded a penalty for crossing and Van Wyk made up for his first-half mistake with a superbly-taken try, a hint of a dummy and powerful step inside for score, with Grayson's conversion restoring Northampton's lead.

And yet Northampton still found a way to make life difficult for themselves, with Allan's second penalty giving the Italian side the lead again before Dingwall and Symons finally restored order as the pressure in the final quarter, with Taqele Naiyaravoro's destructive spearhead, finally proved decisive.