|Photo Daily Mail|
USA international utility forward Samu Manoa continued his strong form in England this past weekend as he was involved in two of the Northampton Saints´ three tries as the East Midlands side completed an away victory over Exeter at Sandy Park. The result saw Northampton move to the top of the table, a highly notable outcome considering the club had five players in Edinburgh representing England against Scotland in the Six Nations.
Samu Manoa started the match in the second-row and had a hand in two of the Saint´s three tries. He combined with New Zealander James Wilson who scored the opening try in the seventeenth minute. Manoa threw a well-timed pass to the fullback who scored an unconverted try in the left corner. The North American was on hand in a similar position in the thirty-third minute to score next to the corner flag which proved vital in giving the Saints the half time lead. Exeter went ahead in the second half before the Saints completed a late victory in the seventy-seventh minute.
The victory in Exeter was sufficient to see the Northampton Saints move into top position ahead of the London based Saracens club which was defeated in an upset by London Irish this weekend. Saracens was missign a host of players to international duty and, in many positions it meant that the team was unable to produce the same quality of rugby that the team has been known for in recent years.
Northampton was in a very comparable position as players including Luther Burrell, Lee Dickson, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, and Tom Wood were all involved in England´s impressive 20-0 dismanting of Scotland at Murrayfield. With so many players missing Manoa was central to his club´s victory. The American is now, arguably, the biggest name in USA rugby - ahead of Taku Ngwenya, Chris Wyles and USA Eagles captain Todd Clever.