Northampton Saints 90 Gloucester 0: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

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Saints’ Euro vision may have ended last weekend, but their Premiership dream is still very much alive.

On Saturday afternoon, they booked a first home play-off semi-final since 2015, the year they finished top of the regular season for the first, and so far only, time.

And not only did they book it, they booked it in serious style, eviscerating Gloucester with a ruthless showing.

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Yes, the Cherry and Whites rotated heavily after reaching the European Challenge Cup final, but you can only beat what's in front of you.

Sam Matavesi came off the bench to score twice (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Sam Matavesi came off the bench to score twice (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Sam Matavesi came off the bench to score twice (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

And Saints didn't just beat it, they battered it.

It was a nightmare scenario for the Gloucester players who did take the field as they faced a home team fired up after agonising back-to-back defeats.

The sun was shining, the stands were packed and Saints were in full flow as they showcased the brilliance of their attacking game.

They hadn't quite managed to click against top opposition in Harlequins and Leinster, but they more than got back on track against the Gloucester young guns, who were unable to fire a single shot.

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Even when the Cherry and Whites went for goal with a second-half penalty, to the derision of many, during the second half, they were unable to find the target.

And Saints refused to let them get another chance to trouble the scoreboard, holding out from the final play of the game with their vociferous home fans at their back.

It truly was a day to savour, particularly for those who will depart the club this summer.

There were 14 Saints tries and many more tears as the likes of Alex Waller and Alex Moon, both scorers on an emotional day, said their goodbyes.

This was their day in the sun, and they certainly made hay.

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It was the ideal occasion for them and a fitting time to sign off at the Gardens.

Because although there is still one more game for the departing players to be involved in on home soil, they are well aware that the play-off semi-final on May 31 will be much more than about individuals.

That Friday night - the 10-year anniversary of when Saints won the Premiership - will be all about the club as a collective.

A club who have not hosted a Premiership play-off semi-final for nine years.

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They couldn't get past Saracens in that final-four battle as their title defence fell flat.

And they will be desperate to ensure this team doesn't suffer the same fate as they bid to rid themselves of their recent semi-final demons.

Saints know that the opposition will be far, far stronger than what they faced this weekend.

But if they can retain the same sort of swagger, freedom and set-piece dominance, they will hope it can be enough to take them to Twickenham.

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Before that, they must finish the regular season at Bath, who remain in contention for a top-two finish of their own.

And what Phil Dowson does in terms of team selection will be fascinating.

Because from here on in, it is all about peaking at the right time.

It may have looked as though Saints had already reached the summit with what happened against Gloucester.

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But the steely focus from all involved in the post-match presentations said that they are eager to ensure that is not the case as they eye a far more significant finish to their season.

How they rated…

GEORGE FURBANK - aside from a couple of missed conversions, this was a sublime performance from the full-back as he cut Gloucester apart after scoring his early try... 9

GEORGE HENDY - came off at half-time but still had time to make an impact, with his flash of lightning helping Furbank to open the scoring inside the opening minute... 8

TOMMY FREEMAN - doesn't quite get as much space at times at centre, but he makes the most of what he is afforded as he cruises around the field setting up tries and threatening to score plenty of his own... 9

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FRASER DINGWALL - he's just so important to this team, and the centre deservedly grabbed a first-half score during another eventful showing... 8.5

OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLME - CHRON STAR MAN - he's just absolutely electric right now and he showed why Saints missed him so much in Dublin with a hat-trick here... 9.5

FIN SMITH - pulled the strings once again for Saints as he put them in the right positions to rack up try after try... 8.5

ALEX MITCHELL - the perfect kind of day for the scrum-half as the game continued to open up, allowing him to weave his magic... 9

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ALEX WALLER - what a moment for the prop as he raced in for a welcome score on his final regular-season appearance at the Gardens... 8.5

CURTIS LANGDON - one of the best pound for pound fighters about, the hooker would not be stopped from close range as he bagged a try double. Denied a hat-trick as he was replaced just before Sam Matavesi scored, must to the amusement of the Saints bench... 8.5

TREVOR DAVISON - was given a breather after the first 40 minutes as he again showed an appetite to get his hands on the ball. Helped Saints get on top at scrum time... 7.5

ALEX MOON - thundered around, making hits and doing the hard work before being rewarded with a try for his efforts... 8.5

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ALEX COLES - the kind of day this lock loves as he got plenty of chances to free up his hands and showcase his all-round ability... 8

COURTNEY LAWES - seemed to take more than a few players with him every time he got hold of the ball as he kept his team calm and kept them on the front foot... 8.5

ANGUS SCOTT-YOUNG - a rare chance to start for the tireless flanker, who looked to be enjoying himself out there... 8

JUARNO AUGUSTUS - powered forward at every opportunity as he piled the pressure on a beleaguered opponent... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

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ELLIOT MILLAR MILLS (for Davison 40) - what a cameo again from the tighthead prop, who backed up a strong showing from the bench in Dublin with some superb play here... 8

TOM SEABROOK (for Hendy 40) - got some welcome minutes against his former club and looked hungry for action in attack and when he had to defend on the rare occasion... 7

MANNY IYOGUN (for Waller 47) - came on and made a really good impact, delivering his first Saints try on his 50th appearance for the club... 8

SAM MATAVESI (for Langdon 47) - grabbed himself a couple of scores on a day when the Saints hookers made the most of their pack's dominance... 8

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SAM GRAHAM (for Lawes 51) - loves the physical side of the game and he showed plenty of desire to get stuck in as Saints kept their foot on the gas... 7

BURGER ODENDAAL (for Smith 54) - a hugely welcome return from injury for the centre, who couldn't have timed his comeback better... 7

TOM JAMES (for Mitchell 57) - started and finished one of the tries of the season as he kept the tempo high for his team... 8

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