Tom Vickers’ Northampton Saints v Gloucester view and player ratings

BIG MOMENT - Claum Clark celebrates scoring his first Premiership try for Saints in the win over Gloucester (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

BIG MOMENT - Claum Clark celebrates scoring his first Premiership try for Saints in the win over Gloucester (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

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The Saints players could almost have been forgiven for pulling out the party poppers as they celebrated a plethora of special landmarks in the 39-13 win against Gloucester on Saturday.

Milestone after milestone occurred in what was, eventually, another convincing victory on home turf.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200042006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200042006

There was a 200th Premiership appearance for skipper Phil Dowson, greeted with warm applause from the home fans before the game.

There was a first Premiership start for young prop Ethan Waller, who replaced brother Alex in the starting line-up.

There was a first Premiership try for flanker Calum Clark, at the 94th time of asking.

There was a first senior score for 20-year-old back Will Hooley, who grabbed his club’s 50th try of the Premiership season. In just 16 games.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200032006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200032006

There were also special moments for Ken Pisi, who crowned his birthday week with a try, and Tom Stephenson, scoring for the second time in six days with another sidestep try that will live long in the memory.

And then there was Ben Foden, the England full-back who came off the bench to put in a sharp showing after missing the previous 13 games with a knee injury.

Fans pay money to witness pivotal moments. Moments that get them off their seats. And they certainly got their fair share on Saturday.

It was something of an ‘I was there when...’ day, but it hadn’t looked likely to be at half-time.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200021006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200021006

Gloucester were only three points down at the break after unwrapping a gift from Kahn Fotuali’i, whose pass was intercepted by scorer Henry Trinder.

After Pisi took advantage of a Gloucester knock-on inside the first four minutes, Saints were guilty of some uncharacteristic sloppiness.

It gave the Cherry and Whites a sniff of repeating the win they secured at Kingsholm back in September.

Fotuali’i and James Wilson, probably the two most consistently impressive players during the past few weeks, both endured unusual off-days and were taken off 10 minutes into the second half.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200011006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200011006

But, as has been the case so often for Saints this season, when some men aren’t quite hitting their straps, others come on to lift the levels and raise the stadium roof.

The introduction of Foden and fellow England star Lee Dickson, along with Alex Waller and Tom Mercey up front, did just that.

And Gloucester, having competed so well for 55 minutes, just couldn’t live with the increase in aggression and tempo.

Top teams show their class when the chips are down.

That is what Saints, the Premiership’s current summit side, did.

A year ago, they lost 27-11 to Gloucester at the Gardens, presenting two tries to Jonny May on a day that proved to be the season’s nadir.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200000006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-200000006

But this time there was to be no repeat. Trinder’s try wasn’t the catalyst for a home collapse.

Instead, Saints dusted themselves off, shrugged their shoulders and got on with securing yet another win.

The final 25 minutes encapsulated a 26-point spree for the home team. Gloucester didn’t get anything on the board during that time.

It meant revenge for that early-season defeat at Kingsholm was served in emphatic style.

All that was lacking was the party poppers.

How they rated...

JAMES WILSON

Was superb in the win at Newcastle six days earlier, but this wasn’t to be his day. Kicking and handling errors made it an unusual afternoon to forget... 5

KEN PISI

Turned 25 earlier in the week and celebrated with a try. Was hungry for work, combining well with his brother on a couple of occasions... 7

GEORGE PISI

So clever and creative, with some cheeky offloads putting Gloucester in a spin. Holds the key to unlocking opposition defences... 7

TOM STEPHENSON

Another week, another superb try. Sidestepped his way past the experienced Charlie Sharples, adding gloss to another confident performance... 8

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Like Ken Pisi, wasn’t shy in getting involved. Hasn’t scored since December 28, but it’s not for the lack of trying... 6

STEPHEN MYLER

Was one conversion away from a blemish-free day from the tee. Tries to create when possible and again showed his importance to the team... 7

KAHN FOTUALI’I

Has been sensational in recent weeks, but, like Wilson, had an unusual off day here. His pass gave Henry Trinder the chance to score for Gloucester... 5

ETHAN WALLER

Came into the starting line-up in place of his brother, who had earned a rest, and didn’t let the side down... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD

Did little wrong in the set piece and once again added plenty of fire to proceedings, building on an impressive performance at Newcastle six days earlier... 7

SALESI MA’AFU

Made one thunderous hit on a fellow forward that almost made the Gardens reverberate. Strong day in the scrum, too... 7

SAM DICKINSON

Made several breaks in the first half, gaining plenty of ground for his team, and was also secure in the lineout again... 8

CHRISTIAN DAY

Made some good stops as Gloucester looked to progress and conducted Saints’ dominance in the maul, which the away side struggled to deal with... 7

CALUM CLARK - CHRON STAR MAN

Often does plenty of work that goes unheralded, but you couldn’t miss his contribution here, which included a first Premiership try... 8

PHIL DOWSON

Another strong showing from the skipper as he celebrated his 200th Premiership appearance in style... 7

GJ VAN VELZE

Forced off early on through injury, but had made some good carries up to that point, earning his team a penalty on one occasion... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

SAMU MANOA (for van Velze 33)

Made some more monster hits, including a bone-cruncher on Mike Tindall. Once again added plenty to the mix... 7

ALEX WALLER (for E Waller 51)

Came on and immediately helped Saints melt Gloucester at the scrum. Added a try to an impressive cameo performance... 8

LEE DICKSON (for Fotuali’i 51)

Injected a bit of stability to Saints’ build-up play, helping them put together some phases of play which put Gloucester under sustained pressure... 7

BEN FODEN (for Wilson 51)

Looked so sharp, despite missing the past 13 matches with a knee injury. There was a buzz around the ground whenever he got the ball. A hugely important player to have back... 7

TOM MERCEY (for Ma’afu 53)

Like Alex Waller, enjoyed an impressive cameo as Saints smashed a fading Gloucester up front. Back from injury, which is a boost for the squad... 7

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-195950006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-195950006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-195940006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-195940006