Olly Morgan was probably relieved Martin Johnson was not at Kingsholm on Saturday. If he had been, the England coach would have seen him limping off at half-time with a tight hamstring in the midst of a dreadful Gloucester performance. He would have also witnessed Ben Foden put in a well-timed display.
The pair are considered to be battling it out to fill the autumn series full-back berth left vacant by Delon Armitage's shoulder injury. Morgan is now the only other No 15 in Johnson's squad, but it now seems certain that Foden will join him next month. Saint's coach Jim Mallinder, clearly believes his time is nigh. "Ben put in some good tackles and made some good breaks as well," he said. "Johnno's not going to pick his side this week or next week. Ben has to keep playing and keep improving. If he does that he will have a good chance of that England call-up."
One of those Foden breaks led to Northampton's second try – Jon Clarke gliding across in the corner – although this was essentially a fine defensive display on behalf of Foden and the team. Foden was not the only one to stake his international claim. At No 10, Shane Geraghty was the game's most influential performer, feeding on Gloucester's growing sense of frustration as they tried to play catch-up from Soane Tonga'uiha's early try. Geraghty makes some wonderful runs and his confidence in his own control is growing by the game.
Now that they have finally won on the road again [this was just their second away win since February 2007] Northampton should kick on from here. How far they can go is the question. Bryan Redpath, the vanquished coach, said. "They are a workmanlike side. Whether they have the power and strength to challenge at the top I don't know, but stranger things have happened and this is a funny league."
Doesn't Redpath know it. After such a rousing opening-day demolition of Bath, the Cherry and Whites have been easy pickings. Big odds would have been on offer against Gloucester not even collecting a bonus point here. As it was, all they had to show was their first-half try from Akapusi Qera and an error list which Redpath is determined to use this week as a collective charge sheet. "No-one can bury their heads," he said. "I will be very honest with the players. I won't hide any of my thoughts – we weren't good enough." With unbeaten Saracens up next a lot more will be required.
Gloucester: Try Qera. Penalties: Robinson, 3. Northampton: Tries Tonga'uiha, Clarke; Conversion Geraghty; Penalties Geraghty 3, Reihana 2.
Gloucester: O Morgan (C Sharples, 40); T Voyce (F Burns, 74), M Tindall (capt), E Fuimaono-Sapolu, L Vainikolo; N Robinson, D Lewis (R Lawson, 56); A Dickinson (P Doran-Jones, 64), S Lawson (O Azam, 56), G Somerville, D Attwood (A Brown, 52), M Bortolami, P Buxton (A Strokosch, 56), A Qera, G Delve.
Northampton: B Foden; C Ashton, J Clarke, J Downey (C Mayor, 56), B Reihana; S Geraghty, L Dickson (A Dickens, 60); S Tonga'uiha, D Hartley (capt) (B Sharman, 76), S Bonorino (B Mujati, 58), I Fernández Lobbe (C Lawes, 55), J Kruger, N Best (R Wilson, 55), S Gray, P Dowson.
Referee: D Rose (Devon).Reuse content