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Saints 22 Gloucester 19: Gaffney and co get off to flying start

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

After all the hype a new era began at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, but in Alan Gaffney’s first game at the helm it was Northampton Saints’ old guard that delivered a thrilling 22-19 victory over Gloucester.

The visitors led at the interval despite Ken Pisi’s opening try, as both a penalty score and James Hanson’s try put them 14-8 ahead – and when John Afoa crossed the whitewash early in the second half, the writing looked on the wall for the Saints.

But a thrilling comeback was sparked by Nic Groom’s touchdown, as Saints were then dramatically awarded a last-gasp penalty try, with Teimana Harrison delivering a man-of-the-match performance in the Northampton No.8 jersey.

The hosts were fortunate not to go behind early on as Courtney Lawes pulled a man down in the lineout, but Owen Williams pulled his kick wide from the resulting penalty.

And as Saints composed themselves and defended well, their hard work was soon rewarded as Pisi opened the scoring in the right corner as a well-worked move breached the Cherry & Whites’ defence and the Samoan finished with aplomb.

Gloucester’s retaliation was instant however; they won a penalty try just minutes later as they drove a rolling maul towards the try-line all the way from the 22, and Api Ratuniyarawa saw himself end up in the sin bin.

But with just 14 men on the field the Saints played heroically, actually reclaiming the lead with a Harry Mallinder penalty before Ratuniyarawa returned to the field.

Gloucester however were soon back in front as David Halaifonua produced a powerful surge down the left and Hanson burrowed over from close range, Williams converting his second attempt at goal to put his side 8-14 ahead as half-time approached.


Saints instantly challenged for their second try at the start of the second half, only to come just metres shy, but Gloucester struggled to break through at the opposite end as well.

And it was the visitors who managed to claim the next score, with Afoa taking on Williams’ offload to break clear and send his side 11 points clear – Williams just pulling the conversion attempt wide left.

Northampton’s response was impressive however; Pisi challenged brilliantly in the air off the kick-off and just a few phases later Groom sniped over – his fourth try of the season – to close the gap at 19-15 and set up a grandstand finish.

That score supercharged a bumper Franklin’s Gardens crowd and it was end-to-end stuff from then on, with possession rocking back and forward, and both sides going hell for leather for a decisive score.

And when Henry Trinder was penalised for offside, Mallinder kicked the crucial penalty into the corner with just two minutes remaining, and it took the TMO to make the decision when Saints forced the rolling maul over the line.

In the end Ian Tempest awarded a penalty try to give Saints a 22-19 win to end their losing run and kick off 2018 with a sensational win.

SAINTS: Tuala; Foden, Horne, Burrell, Pisi; Mallinder, Groom; Ma’afu, Hartley (capt), Ford-Robinson, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Wood, Gibson, Harrison

Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Brookes, Paterson, Nutley, Reinach, Grayson, Stephenson

GLOUCESTER: Marshall; Woodward, Trinder, Symons, Halaifonua; Williams, Heinz (capt); Hohneck, Hanson, Afoa, Slater, Galarza, Ackermann, Polledri, Morgan
Replacements: Matu’u, Orr, Balmain, Savage, Ludlow, Vellacott, Twelvetrees, Sharples

TIMELINE
13’ SAINTS Try Pisi 5-0
15’ GLOUCESTER Penalty Try 5-7
26’ SAINTS Penalty Mallinder 8-7
32’ GLOUCESTER Try Hohneck, Conversion Williams 8-14
HALF-TIME Saints 8-14 Gloucester
54’ GLOUCESTER Try Afoa 8-19
57’ SAINTS Try Groom, Conversion Mallinder 15-19
80’ SAINTS Penalty Try 22-19
FULL-TIME Saints 22-19 Gloucester

Match

Northampton Saints vs Gloucester Rugby

Match Details

FT ScoreFull Time Score

Saints 22-19 Gloucester

Attendance

13,133

Referee

Ian Tempest

Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
22

Summary

Full Time

Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester Rugby
19

Starting LineupNorthampton Saints

14

Ben Foden

13

Rob Horne

12

Luther Burrell

11

Ken Pisi

9

Nic Groom

1

Campese Ma'afu

2

Dylan Hartley

3

Jamal Ford-Robinson

7

Jamie Gibson

SubsNorthampton Saints

18

Kieran Brookes

19

Michael Paterson

20

Ben Nutley

21

Cobus Reinach

23

Tom Stephenson

Opposition LineupGloucester Rugby

15
Tom Marshall
14
Jason Woodward
13
Henry Trinder
12
Andy Symons
11
Tevita Halaifonua
10
Owen Williams
9
Willie Heinz
1
Josh Hohneck
2
James Hanson
3
John Afoa
4
Ed Slater
5
Mariano Galarza
6
Ruan Ackermann
7
Jake Polledri
8
Ben Morgan

SubsGloucester Rugby

16
Motu Matu'u
17
Cameron Orr
18
Fraser Balmain
19
Tom Savage
20
Lewis Ludlow
21
Ben Vellacott
22
Billy Twelvetrees
23
Charlie Sharples
Rugby

One Saints change for Gloucester’s Gardens visit

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints have made just one change to their starting line-up as Gloucester Rugby visit Franklin’s Gardens this Saturday, kick-off 3.00pm.

It will be the first time Saints run out on home soil in 2018, with the Club relishing the opportunity for a fresh start in what will be new technical coaching assistant Alan Gaffney’s opening match.

The high-flying Cherry & Whites narrowly won the first skirmish between the sides at Kingsholm earlier this season.

But prior to that Saints were undefeated in nine matches against Saturday’s opponents and Gloucester have not achieved a season’s double over Northampton since the 2010/11 season.

After sticking with the same backline for the last two games, Gaffney and interim head coach Alan Dickens have opted for a slight shuffle against the high-flying Cherry & Whites.

Harry Mallinder moves from fullback to fly-half, taking on the No.10 jersey with Piers Francis ruled out of the clash with a head injury sustained at Twickenham last time out.

That means the in-form Ahsee Tuala shifts to fullback from the wing, with Ben Foden staying on the flank and Ken Pisi coming in to complete the back three.

Rob Horne and Luther Burrell stay in the Saints midfield while South African scrum-half Nic Groom keeps his place at inside half.

The pack meanwhile is unchanged from last weekend’s loss, with England captain Dylan Hartley skippering the side once again from hooker and Jamie Gibson staying at openside flanker after an impressive showing against Harlequins.

And prop Kieran Brookes has recovered from a hand injury to take up his place on the bench after a six-week layoff.

“We’ve addressed the players about a number of issues and no punches were pulled,” said Gaffney. “These players have just got to go out and play, as there’s a lot of talent in this squad.

“We’re all in this together; we have to dig in and get more second involvements, get back on our feet and into the game a lot quicker than we are doing.

“Then we’ve got to go out and back ourselves. The players have been very positive this week and there have been few mistakes made in training, so we’re just hoping we can transform that into a performance on Saturday.”

Tickets are still available for the Gloucester match at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday 6th January, starting from £28 (adults) and £12 (juniors). Visit bit.ly/SAI-GLO-201718 to book online or call the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000.

SAINTS V GLOUCESTER TEAM NEWS
Aviva Premiership Rugby, Round 13
Franklin’s Gardens
Saturday 6 January, 2018
Kick-off: 3.00pm

SAINTSGLOUCESTER

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ben Foden
13 Rob Horne
12 Luther Burrell
11 Ken Pisi
10 Harry Mallinder
9 Nic Groom 

1 Campese Ma’afu
2 Dylan Hartley (capt)
3 Jamal Ford-Robinson
4 Api Ratuniyarawa
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Tom Wood
7 Jamie Gibson
8 Teimana Harrison 

Replacements:
16 Mikey Haywood
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Kieran Brookes
19 Michael Paterson
20 Ben Nutley
21 Cobus Reinach
22 James Grayson
23 Tom Stephenson

15 Tom Marshall
14 Jason Woodward
13 Henry Trinder
12 Andy Symons
11 David Halaifonua
10 Owen Williams
9 Willi Heinz (capt)
1 Josh Hohneck
2 James Hanson
3 John Afoa
4 Ed Slater
5 Mariano Galarza
6 Ruan Ackermann
7 Jake Polledri
8 Ben Morgan

Replacements:
16 Motu Matu'u
17 Cameron Orr
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Tom Savage
20 Lewis Ludlow
21 Ben Vellacott
22 Billy Twelvetrees
23 Charlie Sharples

Injury update:
Tom Collins (foot), Alex Waller (arm), Jamie Elliott (hamstring), Rory Hutchinson (back), George North (knee), Piers Francis (concussion), Stephen Myler (ribs), and Nafi Tuitavake (calf) are unavailable for selection.

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
7
Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester RugbyGLO2211110490597-10765738256
9
Northampton Saints
Northampton SaintsNOR228014509645-13664805643
Form Guide

Form

LLLLL

Last match

Lost to Sale 23-32

Past meeting

Lost 0-20
Full Time
Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
22
Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester Rugby
19