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Match Report: Gloucester 29 – 31 Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints picked up a bonus-point victory at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon, beating Gloucester 31-29 in a thriller and extending their winning streak to five games.

The men in Black, Green and Gold had the bonus point before half-time thanks to a brace from hooker Curtis Langdon, along with one try apiece from Alex Mitchell and the returning Alex Coles, to go in at the break 24-14 up.

The Cherry and Whites found their way back into the game in the second half and led 29-24 with 15 minutes to go, thanks to tries from Matias Alemanno and Santiago Carreras, along with a Hastings penalty. But 15 minutes from time, Tom Litchfield finished off a flowing move which saw Saints take the lead and then hang on for victory.


Saints began the better of the two sides, and less than five minutes in they were rewarded with the first try of the game. A break from Tom Pearson got Saints to within a couple of metres of the line, and after a couple more phases and a quick-tap penalty, Alex Mitchell sniped from the base of a ruck to dot down under the sticks. Fin Smith added the extra two and Saints had an early lead.

The electric start continued as Alex Coles stretched over for Saints’ second try after eight minutes. After the visitors initially made a turnover on the halfway line and won a penalty, Coles had enough to barge over from a metre out.

The home side began to find their way back into the game after the second Northampton try, and were camped on the visitors’ line for several minutes, but two consecutive turnovers from the men in Black, Gold and Green relieved the pressure.

What Gloucester couldn’t do at one end, Saints then managed at the other. Courtney Lawes had won his side a penalty and Smith opted for the corner. From the resulting lineout, the driving maul powered through the Gloucester defence and over the line, with Curtis Langdon the scorer. Smith couldn’t add the extras from wide out this time, but Saints were 17 points ahead.

It didn’t take long for the Cherry and Whites to get on the scoreboard though after Langdon’s score. Gloucester, again, were mounting the pressure and they found Freddie Clarke on the left-hand side who dotted down. Adam Hastings added the conversion to cut the gap to ten.

However, Langdon had the bonus point for the men in Black, Green and Gold a minute before the break. From inside their own 22, Saints went wide finding Tom Lichfield on the wing. He, Tommy Freeman and Sam Graham all made metres before the latter popped the ball up to Langdon, who still had work to do by evading a couple of defenders and diving over the line.

It wasn’t the end of the drama though, as on the 40-minute mark, Rory Hutchinson was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle, and Gloucester had one more opportunity before the break. After a driving maul was brought down short of the line, the home side fed the backs, finding Chris Harris on the wing in space to score. Hastings again added the extras, cutting the gap which meant Saints went in at the break 24-14 up.


Gloucester were the quickest out of the blocks in the second 40, and seven minutes in had their third try. Louis Rees-Zammit should have scored a phase previously but was brought down close to the line, and when the ball was recycled, Matias Alemanno dotted over.

And on the 53rd minute, the home side took the lead for the first time in the match. Rees-Zammit broke down the wing and passed inside to Stephen Varney who was brought down just before the line. But when the ball was recycled wide, Carreras stepped past one defender and scored under the posts. The conversion was successful, and Gloucester now had a two-point lead.

That was then stretched to five with 20 minutes to go, as The Cherry and Whites won a scrum penalty in front of the sticks to the delight of the Kingsholm crowd, and Hastings slotted the simple three points.

It took until the 65th minute for Saints to regain some momentum, but they took their opportunity in fine fashion. Litchfield made a break on the left wing, passed back inside to Mitchell, and the England scrum-half then returned the ball to Litchfield who scored in the corner. Smith slotted the touchline conversion to snatch the lead back for Northampton.

The dying moments of the game belonged to Gloucester. Time and time again the Cherry and Whites hit into the Saints defence, but while the visitors kept finding the answers, with the clock in the red the hosts won a penalty and Hastings pointed to the posts.

The Scotsman stepped up, but his kick fell short of the line and into the grateful hands of Rory Hutchinson who kick the ball high into the stands and gave Saints their first win at Kingsholm since January 2021. The victory also moved them up to third in the table, two points off the top, with Sale Sharks next on the horizon for Northampton at a sold-out cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens next Saturday afternoon.


GLOUCESTER: 15 Carreras, 14 Rees-Zammit, 13 Harris, 12 Llewellyn, 11 Thorley, 10 Hastings, 9 Varney; 1 Elrington, 2 Socino, 3 Balmain, 4 Clarke, 5 Alemanno, 6 Ackermann, 7 Ludlow (c), 8 Mercer
Replacements: 16 McGuigan, 17 Ford-Robinson, 18 Gotovsev, 19 Jordan, 20 Clement, 21 Englefield, 22 Atkinson, 23 Evans

SAINTS: 15 Furbank, 14 Lichfield, 13 Dingwall, 12 Hutchinson, 11 Freeman, 10 Smith, 9 Mitchell; 1 E.Waller, 2 Langdon, 3 Hill, 4 Mayanavanua, 5 Coles, 6 Lawes, 7 Pearson, 8 Graham
Replacements: 16 Matavesi, 17 Haffar, 18 Millar Mills, 19 Munga, 20 Augustus, 21 Braley, 22 Savala, 23 Garside

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