Gloucester 26 Northampton Saints 24 match report: Saints lose unbeaten record as Billy Twelvetrees kicks controversial late penalty

 

kingsholm

Amidst a storm of controversy, Northampton lost their unbeaten Aviva Premiership record to the last kick of the game. Having snatched the lead only three minutes earlier, the Midland club stood and watched as Billy Twelvetrees kicked the 39-metre penalty goal which gave Gloucester their first win of the season.

Gloucester have never lost three successive matches at the start of any Premiership season, and they seldom looked like doing so here, despite the fact that they started at the foot of the table. But when Jamie Elliott scored Northampton's third try in the 79th minute, even the most confirmed occupant of the Kingsholm Shed must have feared the worst.

Only twenty seconds remained when Twelvetrees restarted and what followed came courtesy of the match officials. Television replays suggested at least four Gloucester players were in front of the restart but Northampton knocked on and Gloucester settled for a scrum on the opposition 10-metre line – and scrums had been the bane of the entire game.

Over half required a reset, half a dozen ended in penalties, and this final confrontation required two resets before Gloucester drove the Northampton pack round and up. Arguably No 8 Ben Morgan should have been penalised for fishing the ball back into the scrum as it wheeled but Martin Fox, the referee, decided Lee Dickson, the replacement Northampton scrum- half, was offside and Twelvetrees, fly-half and goalkicker after Freddie Burns left the field, stepped up to win the game.

"It's a shame when games are decided by a referee in the last couple of minutes," Jim Mallinder, Northampton's director of rugby, said carefully. "The crowd have a big impact here, you have to be very accurate in everything you do, you have to put the referee out of the equation."

Mallinder argued that his forwards controlled the first reset scrum and should have been given a turnover. "There were three massive decisions [by the referee] in a very short space of time which decided the outcome," he added, aware of course that it was his own decision to rest Alex Corbisiero, the England and Lions prop, for this game in compliance with the protocols of the elite player squad agreed between clubs and country.

Northampton could argue they were robbed, particularly after a wonderful piece of running by George North from his own 22 paved the way for Elliott's try. But they never played with the authority which was their hallmark on the first two weekends of the Premiership and, even though they led at the interval, they could not impose themselves on a Gloucester side which produced one of its blood-and-guts displays.

They did so despite the concession of a try to Ben Foden in the sixth minute. The full-back's skilful feet enabled him to profit from a break by Luther Burrell, and Northampton negotiated safely the 10-minute period when Sam Dickinson was in the sin-bin after tackling James Simpson-Daniel in the air. They were aided by Gloucester's decisions to kick penalties to the corner rather than at goal, so Gloucester were relieved to work Charlie Sharples into the corner just before the interval.

Northampton conceded the lead at the start of the second half. Jimmy Cowan took a tapped penalty as the Northampton forwards broke up from a scrum and Twelvetrees crossed for the try too easily for the comfort of any visiting defence coach. No matter, they regrouped and drove Manu Samoa over from a lineout.

Gloucester came again and Burns tried to catch Northampton napping when, with a 20-metre penalty on offer, he tapped to himself and was halted just short. But Elliott Stooke, the lock, celebrated his Gloucester Premiership debut with a try when Simpson-Daniel's lovely midfield run created space.

Yet the gap remained bridgeable. Burrell's potential scoring pass to North was judged forward and when Twelvetrees kicked deep into Northampton's 22, there seemed no danger. But with Gloucester a man short while Simpson-Daniel received treatment, North beat four tacklers and found Calum Clark inside him; the flanker linked with Elliott, who sprinted to the posts for the try which, with Myler's conversion, seemed to have won Northampton the game. So near yet so far.

Gloucester R Cook; C Sharples (J May 75), H Trinder, B Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel ( May 21-25); F Burns (M Tindall, 69), J Cowan (D Robson, 75); D Murphy (Y Thomas, 66), D Dawidiuk (K Britton, 72), R Hardern (S Knight, 66), T Savage (capt; W James, 66), E Stooke, M Kvesic, A Qera (B Morgan, 63), S Kalamafoni.

Northampton B Foden; J Elliott, J Wilson (G Pisi, 46), L Burrell, G North; S Myler, K Fotuali'i (L Dickson, 55); A Waller (G Denman, 66), D Hartley (captain; M Haywood, 72)), T Mercey (E Waller, 66), S Manoa (P Dowson, 63), C Day, T Wood, C Clark, S Dickinson (G van Velze, 69).

Referee Martin Fox.

Gloucester

Tries: Sharples, Twelvetrees, Stooke

Con: Burns

Pens: Burns (2), Twelvetrees

Northampton

Tries: Foden, Manoa, Elliott

Cons: Myler (3)

Pen: Myler

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game