Gloucester heap more woe on Saints
February 25, 2011
Gloucester heap more woe on Saints%]
Jonny May bagged a brace of tries as in-form Gloucester consigned Northampton Saints to a fifth successive Aviva Premiership defeat by triumphing 18-16 at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
Swindon-born May is the fastest man in the Kingsholm squad and his pace was evident as he crossed twice during a compact first-half performance from resurgent Gloucester. The visitors then managed to hold on for the win despite a second-half Greig Tonks try and three penalties and a conversion from Stephen Myler.
Quick but slightly risky hands from Akapusi Qera and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu gave May the chance to score the match's opening try. The 20-year-old scooped up the bouncing ball and promptly scythed through a statuesque Saints defence. Cutting under the posts, May even had time to salute his score on his 35-metre burst. Myler had opened the scoring with a penalty, but May's score and Nicky Robinson's conversion reversed that lead.
Saints fly-half Myler doubled his and his side's tally with a second penalty on 26 minutes, but Gloucester struck again to ensure they went into the break with a handy lead.
The dangerous Robinson cut the line cleanly for the second time in the match, feeding Fuimaono-Sapolu who powered into the 22. The Samoan playmaker had the presence of mind to fire out a speculative pass to onrushing full-back Morgan, who picked up on the bounce and fed on to May. The England Under-20 cap collected and raced in to touch down in the right corner, just evading the Saints cover in time to register his second try.
Saints centre James Downey takes on the Gloucester defence © Getty Images
Saints opened the second half a different side, though, quickly crossing through Tonks. Myler's clever grubber kick took advantage of acres of space behind Gloucester's line in their 22, and the Saints fullback was easily first to the ball to pick up and dive home.
Myler slotted over the easy conversion to ensure Saints regained the lead by a point. The former rugby league playmaker then missed a penalty attempt, before England back-five forward Courtney Lawes came off the bench for his first action since injuring a knee at Leicester on January 8.
Saints pinned Fuimaono-Sapolu into a ruck to concede a penalty, and Welshman Robinson obliged with three points to restore his side's lead. A penalty won at a maul allowed Robinson to add another three points on the hour-mark, before England and Bath-bound lock Dave Attwood made his league return after his nine-week stamping ban.
Myler cut that lead to two as Saints dominated a scrum for another penalty, but impressive continuity and phase play from Gloucester ran down the clock for eight minutes.
A good maul in the Saints 22 was brought down, and the Cherry and Whites put the penalty into the corner. Gloucester knocked on at the lineout, prompting frenetic Saints attempts to turn the tide at the death. Saints conceded a scrum penalty to sound the final whistle, though, as their poor form continued.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker