Tom Vickers’ Gloucester v Saints view and player ratings

FLASHPOINT - Martin Fox awards a late penalty to Gloucester, to the dismay of the Saints players (picture by Linda Dawson)
FLASHPOINT - Martin Fox awards a late penalty to Gloucester, to the dismay of the Saints players (picture by Linda Dawson)
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Forty-five minutes after Saints had been kicked in the nether regions at Kingsholm, Jim Mallinder walked into the Gloucester press room.

The Northampton director of rugby was a picture of calm as he prepared to give his post-match interview to the written media.

To those who had seen his frustration-fuelled reaction when Gloucester had been awarded a late penalty, that may have been a surprise.

But Mallinder has been here before with Saints and, on reflection, he will be well aware that as hard to take as the decision was, it wasn’t life or death in terms of his team’s season.

They have picked up 10 points from their first three games, including a total of five from trips to Harlequins and Gloucester.

Most teams will struggle to take a single point from those fixtures, so Saints can be proud of their efforts there.

Another thing that must be remembered is that Mallinder steered his men to five successive wins at the start of the previous campaign, including one at Kingsholm. They went on to finish fourth, needing to step up to the plate at Saracens to make the Aviva Premiership final.

The season is not decided on one result in September, though the three lost points could of course come back to haunt the club in the race for the top two.

Generally, though, it is often the case that these things even themselves out over the course of the season, and Mallinder was not prepared to brood for too long.

Admirably, he made it clear that his side could, and should, have done things better at Kingsholm, and they will now be focusing on seeing off Sale on Friday night.

As for Gloucester, they put in a gargantuan performance on Saturday and are far better than their opening two defeats had suggested.

They dominated possession for long spells against Saints, who showed their title credentials with some defiant defending and ruthless finishing on the road.

It was almost the perfect away performance as they soaked up pressure before scoring a picture-book try late on to win it.

George North’s rambunctious run down the left, beating three men, and Calum Clark’s ability to find Jamie Elliott produced a moment that will live long in the memory.

Indeed, some are already talking about a try of the season contender - and few would argue.

It should have been the match-winning try and would have been but for Fox’s intervention.

The referee failed to spot a clear offside and then compounded that error with a scrum call that will leave even those of a Gloucester persuasion scratching their heads in disbelief.

To Twelvetrees’ immense credit, with all the hubbub surrounding his kick, he bisected the posts well and the Cherry and Whites had the win.

It was a major boost for them and will surely kick-start their season.

But Saints will remain unbowed. They have not been broken by one swing of Twelvetrees’ boot.

Instead, Mallinder, who says he looks at fixtures in blocks, will be happy with his side’s work so far.

His wry smile in the Kingsholm press room said it all.

BEN FODEN

Cut through the Gloucester defence with ease to score the game’s opening try and put in a good performance... 7

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Always pops up in the right place at the right time and scored the try which should have helped win the game... 7

JAMES WILSON

Came to the fore in the win at Harlequins, but had a more difficult time in this game and was withdrawn after 46 minutes... 6

LUTHER BURRELL

Started the season with a bang with two big performances, but was less influential here as his passing was not up to its usual high standard... 6

GEORGE NORTH

Made Elliott’s try with some simply sensational footwork, going round three Gloucester players before offloading. A player with huge X Factor... 7

STEPHEN MYLER

Made an error at the start of the second half as he opted to keep the ball in hand rather than kicking it, and Gloucester went on to score, but generally did okay... 6

KAHN FOTUALI’I

It was the Samoan scrum-half’s first real chance to show what he was made of after the soggy game at Quins stopped his flow, but he wasn’t able to control this one... 6

ALEX WALLER

Came in for his first start of the season in place of the rested Alex Corbisiero and gave a good account of himself... 7

DYLAN HARTLEY

The captain again put in a power-packed performance and was secure in the set piece... 7

TOM MERCEY

Helped Saints get on top in the scrum early on, but faded a little as Gloucester eventually found their feet... 6

SAMU MANOA

Got himself on the scoresheet during the second half and is getting better week by week as he gets up to scratch following a fragmented pre-season... 7

CHRISTIAN DAY - CHRON STAR MAN

Saints’ stand-out player, he carried the ball on a number of occasions and helped his side stand up to a determined Gloucester outfit... 8

TOM WOOD

Another dogged display from the England star, who is so important in Saints’ attacking and defensive efforts... 7

CALUM CLARK

A great offload for Elliott’s score and was as impressive as ever with his energy at the breakdown and around the field... 7

SAM DICKINSON

Sin-binning took the edge of his showing, but the big man was still able to show signs of how good a player he is... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

GEORGE PISI (for Wilson 46)

Had to do plenty of work in defence as Saints were pushed back by Gloucester during the second half, but stood up to the test well... 6

LEE DICKSON (for Fotuali’i 54)

Tried to inject the spark Saints needed to get on the front foot during the second half, but it was tough as Gloucester exerted plenty of pressure... 6