Northampton recorded four points in the Aviva Premiership with a 15-3 victory against Gloucester at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday evening
The hosts had led 9-3 at the break thanks to three Stephen Myler penalties while one goal from Billy Twelvetrees made up the visitors first half total
Two further penalties from the Saints number 10 after the break secured the win for Saints
A dominant Northampton pack crushed the fight out of Gloucester to secure a 15-3 Aviva Premiership victory on Friday evening. Kieran Brookes, who has struggled for consistency in the past, sent out a clear message to England head coach, Eddie Jones, as he carried powerfully while also decimating the Cherry and Whites scrum.
The game was far from pretty throughout, but the individual class of Brookes in the pack, Ben Foden in the backs and Stephen Myler from the tee kept Northampton on the front foot, helping them to a narrow 9-3 lead at half-time.
Northampton then edged to the win through two further Myler penalties while their defence had to be at their concentrated best with the visitors wing pairing of Charlie Sharples and Jonny May looking to punish them on the break.
The hosts did add some excitement to the overall dull evening as they introduced Springbok legend Victor Matfield to the Franklin’s Gardens faithful, with the lock coming on as a replacement in the second-half. However, there were concerns for the hosts Luther Burrell, who limped off, and now could join fellow England and Saints teammate Courtney Lawes on the treatment table.
Northampton’s strong pack shunted the Gloucester pack to win the games first penalty after nine minutes, with Stephen Myler on target to give Jim Mallinder’s side the lead, 3-0.
Five minutes later the Cherry and Whites conceded another soft penalty, and again Myler punished them with a confident strike between the posts. The fly-half then gave the hosts a nine-point lead from the tee, with the visitors scrum once again being unable to deal with Saints unwavering power.
Gloucester then attempted to solve their problems at the set piece by replacing their loosehead Paddy McAllister, who was being bullied by Brookes, after just 22 minutes with Yann Thomas coming on. Twelvetrees was then able to get the visitors on the scoreboard a minute later from the tee after Saints were found guilty of coming in from the side, 9-3.
It got even better for the visitors soon after as Tom Wood was sent to the sin-bin after 31 minutes, which was Northampton’s first yellow card of the season. A powerful lineout drive from the Cherry and Whites was brought down cynically with the Saints back-row correctly being given ten minutes off the field, but Twelvetrees missed the resulting penalty.
Saints then defended resolutely, playing down the time on Wood’s time in the sin-bin, while also ensuring they could maintain their six-point lead at the break despite some late pressure from the visitors.
Wood returned for the hosts a minute after the restart, meaning no damage was done by Gloucester while they had the man advantage. The door then opened for Saints to open the try-scoring but Luther Burrell was unable to gather Myler’s pass and knocked the ball on as the best chance of the game so far went begging.
As the game began to open up, Jonny May of Gloucester then had the best chance the visitors had created. The England wing sprinted down the wing before his weak attempted kick through was intercepted by the covering Foden, who pressured May into an unwise decision considering he had the support of Twelvetrees and Bill Meakes on the inside.
Springbok legend Victor Matfield was then introduced by Saints for his debut after 57 minutes while there would be some concern for Burrell, who limped off with a suspected knee injury.
Northampton, who had injected some momentum into their game with a quicker tempo of passing, then earned a penalty from Matfield’s first carry, with Myler striking the ball between the sticks for the first points of the second half after 63 minutes, 12-3.
The number 10 was quick to strike again two minutes later to edge the host 12 points clear, scoring his fifth penalty goal after Gloucester were yet again penalised at the scrum.
Northampton’s dominant scrum, led by Brookes, continued to cause Gloucester all sorts of problems with this time Thomas seeing yellow with just a minute remaining for his sides consistent offending at the set piece. Saints though, despite their man advantage, were unable to find a late try as they ended the game 15-3 winners.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Northampton: Kieran Brookes
Scrummaging rock Kieran Brookes followed up his impressive performance against Glasgow Warriors last weekend with an equally good display against Gloucester. He bullied Paddy McAllister off the field within the first 25 minutes before tormenting his replacement Yann Thomas for the remainder of the match. The prop will be hoping Eddie Jones was watching yet another dominant display as he looks to establish himself in the England starting XV.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali’I; 1 Alex Waller, 2 Mikey Haywood, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Michael Paterson, 5 Christian Day, 6 Jamie Gibson, 7 Tom Wood (c), 8 Sam Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ken Pisi.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 James Hook, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 9 Willi Heinz; 1 Paddy McAllister, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 John Afoa, 4 Tom Savage, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Ben Morgan.
Replacements: 17 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Sione Kalamafoni, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Henry Purdy, 23 Jacob Rowan.
Date: Friday, November 27
Venue: Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Paul Dix and Ashley Rowden
TMO: David Sainsbury