Gloucester withstand Saints' cavalry charge

Gloucester 27 Northampton 15

Gloucester have something going for them, even if they would prefer the going to end after 80 minutes rather than 100. There were times here when Tuesday night rugby seemed certain to mutate into Wednesday morning rugby, but at the end of a second half lasting the best part of an hour, the Kingsholmites consolidated their third-place standing in the Premiership table and are now virtually certain of a semi-final spot.

If the West Countrymen were a little suspicious of Northampton's selection – the visitors had only one undisputed first-teamer, the England flanker Tom Wood, in their starting line-up – it was with good reason. This time last year, the Midlanders pulled a similar stunt at Bath, stacking their bench with talent in the hope the cannon-fodder could stay in touch an hour. This they did, and when the cavalry were introduced, they scared their opponents witless before losing by a point.

There was no repeat performance. Not quite. However, the second-stringers did come up with an early statement of intent. The early scrums were more than a little pugilistic, and when Adam Eustace started roughing up opponents on the floor, the combustible Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam launched himself horizontally at the miscreant. No one in the big crowd died of shock at this development. Azam could start a serious argument in an empty room, while Eustace is a one-time local favourite who launched his Kingsholm career by forming the celebrated "dustpan and brush" partnership with Andy Hazell.

Amid the fire and fury, the young Northampton prop Alex Waller opened the scoring with a try on his first Premiership start, rolling over in the right corner despite the defensive attentions of Freddie Burns and Dave Lewis. Gloucester were soon on terms, though: Tim Molenaar, their strapping centre, cut a slide-rule angle as Nicky Robinson spun out a pass from Alex Brown's line-out delivery and made the line with plenty to spare. Burns added the extras and then created a second try with an inspired kick to the Northampton in-goal area, finished off in predatory fashion by Charlie Sharples. That put Gloucester nine points ahead at the break and they had the game pretty much won early in the third quarter when Burns chipped over a penalty and Azam, with the crowd almost dragging him across the line, claimed a front-row bandit's try from a churning maul. From a handy advantage to a decisive one in the twinkling of an elderly French front-rower's slow-motion stampede.

Cue the comeback. Lee Dickson, one of last night's cavalry, claimed a scruffy try after a long goal-line siege, and had Soane Tonga'uiha, another late addition, placed the ball at the right-hand post rather than bounce it as the game moved ever deeper into stoppage time, the visitors would have left with a losing bonus point. Instead, they left with nothing.

Gloucester Tries: Molenaar, Sharples, Azam. Conversions: Burns (3). Penalties: Burns (2).

Northampton Tries: Waller, Dickson. Conversion: Geraghty. Penalty: Geraghty.

Gloucester F Burns (H Trinder 93); C Sharples, T Molenaar, E Fuimaono-Sapolu, J May; N Robinson (T Voyce 38), R Lawson; N Wood (A Dickinson 67), O Azam (S Lawson 71), P Doran-Jones (R Harden 93), D Attwood, A Brown (W James 76), A Strokosch, A Qera, L Narraway (capt, B Deacon 68).

Northampton B Reihana; S Armstrong, J Ansbro, G Tonks (B Foden 84), P Diggin; S Geraghty, S Commins (L Dickson 69); A Waller (S Tonga'uiha 59), B Sharman (D Hartley 59), T Mercey (B Mujati 59), A Eustace (C Lawes 82), M Sorenson, C Clark (capt), T Wood (P Dowson 66), M Easter.

Referee W Barnes (London).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map