Barkley the top man as Gloucester shine on

Gloucester 33 Northampton 10
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The Independent Online

An inspired Olly Barkley helped to steer Gloucester, albeit temporarily, to the top of the Premiership with a bonus-point victory over Northampton yesterday. Barkley was a shining light among a sparkling cast of former Bath players which included Iain Balshaw and Mike Tindall.

Barkley had a hand in the first four tries, initiating the moves that led to Balshaw's opener, sending openside flanker Alasdair Strokosch away at the start of the move which ended with Luke Narraway touching down for the second, sticking the cross-kick over the Saints' defence for Leslie Vainikolo's bonus touchdown midway through the second half,having scored Gloucester's third try on the stroke ofhalf-time.

Full-back Balshaw was assured under the high ball, sharp on the counterattack and sound in defence, pulling off a fine tackle on Carlos Spencer after the former All Black had been put through by flanker Peter Buxton's wild throw.

Northampton finally nailed a try in the third quarter, when the openside Scott Gray picked up at a close-range ruck, then fell his length to touch down in the corner. Stephen Myler, who had earlier kicked a penalty, converted.

But back came Gloucester with Vainikolo's try, which was converted by Ryan Lamb. The fly-half was a particular nuisance, and he followed that up with his second and third penalties to take his points tally to 13 in the game and put the match out of Northampton's reach.