Another awful day for Gloucester and their new coach. Bryan Redpath described himself as "severely disappointed", and with good reason. The Shed is not in the habit of emptying before the final whistle. But they had seen enough. As would have anyone who didn't classify themselves a Saint.
"Scrappy" only just began to describe it. Northampton simply did what they had to; nick a couple, kick a couple more and haul down the unimaginative attacks which came their way.
"I'm not taking anything away from them but I don't think Northampton had to do a huge amount to win this game," said Redpath, before reeling off his side's failings. It was a lengthy list, but one which the Scot promised to have his squad familiar with before facing unbeaten Saracens next week. His mood suggested Kingsholm will not be a place to be dreaming up excuses over the next few days.
In truth, there weren't any. The penalties almost outnumbered the individual errors. Perhaps the example of the latter which best summed it all up was when, with the minutes counting down, Gloucester's captain, Mike Tindall, knocked on when three yards out and with the whitewash at his mercy. The home side were chasing two converted tries by then.
Credit to Northampton, though. As their coach, Jim Mallinder, put it: "Not many sides come here and win". He had challenged his men to sort out their away form. "We only won once on the road all of last season," he said. "We will take a lot of belief from this."
They arrived still feeling aggrieved at their controversial defeat by Saracens at Wembley last weekend, but evidence of their "bouncebackability" was provided early on. In the dying seconds last week, Soane Tonga'uiha believed his charge had produced a winning try. The video referee, strangely, deemed otherwise. After seven minutes yesterday there could be no doubt – the Tongan prop dived over. Shane Geraghty converted.
This was to prove a fine kicking performance from Geraghty – from hand and from the ground – although the biggest bangs belonged to Bruce Reihana. His penalty from the halfway line gave Northampton a 10-0 advantage and then another boomer in the second half added three more points.
Gloucester did fight back to take the lead at 14-13 just after the half-hour. But their supremacy was short-lived. From the kick-off they conceded a penalty and when Geraghty did his thing, they were playing catch-up again.
There was no question they were capable of it. Lesley Vainikolo (pictured left) returning to the side after his court case, provided the game's stand-out moment when he bullocked through the defence to set up a score for the flanker Akapusi Qera. Nicky Robinson had a hand in that try, but otherwise it was not a pleasing day for the Welsh fly-half. He missed too many kicks and took too many wrong options, which was not clever when Northampton were in punishing mode.
Holding a five-point cushion at the break, the Saints sensed the next score would be crucial. So Ben Foden, the England full-back in waiting, sliced through and ticked off the yards which eventually led to Jon Clarke's try in the corner. There was more than half an hour left, but the script was already written. Gloucester would make mistakes and the Saints would capitalise. Not what the Shed expects.
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, S Lawson (O Azam, 56), G Somerville (P Doran Jones, 64), D Attwood (A Brown, 52), M Bortolami, P Buxton (A Strokosch, 56), G Delve, A Qera.
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 Fernandez Lobbe (C Lawes, 54), J Kruger, N Best (R Wilson, 54), P Dowson, S Gray.
Referee: D Rose (Warwickshire).Reuse content