Young guns down Gloucester to send Saints top again

Kahn Fotuali'i congratuates Ken Pisi on his try against Gloucester (pictures: Linda Dawson)
Kahn Fotuali'i congratuates Ken Pisi on his try against Gloucester (pictures: Linda Dawson)

Saints’ Academy talent came to the fore as Gloucester were thrashed 39-13 at Franklin’s Gardens.

Tom Stephenson, Alex Waller and Will Hooley all dotted down, adding to Ken Pisi and Calum Clark scores, as Jim Mallinder’s men went back to the Aviva Premiership table.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161304006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161304006

Gloucester had held their own and were level at 13-13 early in the second half, but they were simply overwhelmed by Saints’ power.

The hosts overcame a sloppy first half performance, which saw Henry Trinder score an interception try and Freddie Burns keep Gloucester in touch with the boot.

But Clark, Waller, Hooley and, with the score of the match,Stephenson, all touched down in the second half to ensure Saints secured their 11th successive Premiership success.

Gloucester lost forward Will James to the bin before the end, but the contest was already over by the time he was carded.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161426006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161426006

It was sweet revenge for Saints, who had suffered their only defeat of the league season at Gloucester back in September, losing 26-24 in controversial circumstances.

But there was to be no repeat here as they maintained their 100 per cent home league record.

Pisi got the ball rolling as he raced through the middle to capitalise on a Gloucester knock-on early on.

Stephen Myler, who was to finish the day with 14 points, easily added the extras and his side had moved into a 7-0 lead inside the opening four minutes.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161416006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161416006

But Saints were to repay the favour four minutes later as Trinder intercepted a Kahn Fotuali’i pass just 10 metres from his own line and beat Pisi in a foot race to score.

Burns levelled the scores from the tee and the gap was wide open with both sides looking less than secure.

Saints were on top up front, though, dominating the scrum and the maul as they ground into the Gloucester half.

Myler put the home team back in the lead with a penalty from in front of the posts but Burns responded quickly to restore parity once more.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161406006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161406006

Errors were costing Saints territory, with James Wilson, the star of the previous week’s win at Newcastle, guilty of some loose kicking and handling errors.

The home fans were getting frustrated, with the scrum contest also becoming slightly irksome as Gloucester continued to engage early.

When they did get down to it, Saints were winning the battle, forcing penalties as they looked to ramp up the pressure.

They turned to the maul just before the break, powering towards the Gloucester line before being pulled down, with Myler landing the subsequent penalty.

But again Gloucester weren’t behind for long as they emerged from half-time to win a penalty that Burns slotted to pull them level at 13-13.

Saints called for the cavalry, introducing England duo Lee Dickson and Ben Foden, making his first appearance since November, from the bench.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161355006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140103-161355006

They also changed their props, bringing Waller and Tom Mercey into play, and that saw Gloucester melt at the scrum, cranking up the heat in the away half.

And the Cherry and Whites cracked as Clark peeled off the side of a ruck to dive over, adding a fist pump to celebrate his first Premiership score.

Myler made it 20-13 with the conversion, but the game’s highlight was still to come as Stephenson sidestepped his way past some despairing challenges to score.

The young centre celebrated with a roar in front of the Burrda Stand, with Myler making it a 14-point lead.

And Saints soon had the bonus point as James was carded for not releasing and a lineout drive took Waller over the line.

Saints weren’t done yet as Hooley grabbed his first Northampton score in the corner as his side went back to the top of the table with a bang.

Saints: Wilson (Foden 51); K Pisi, G Pisi (Hooley 76), Stephenson,

Elliott; Myler, Fotuali’i (L Dickson 51); E Waller (A Waller 51), Haywood (McMillan 76), Ma’afu (Mercey 53); Dickinson (Nutley 65), C Day, Clark, Dowson (c), van Velze (Manoa 33).

Gloucester: Cook; Sharples, Trinder, Tindall (c), M Thomas (Monahan 67); F Burns (B Burns 60), Robson (Knoyle 67); Y Thomas (Murphy 55), Edmonds (George 53), Harden (Puafisi 63), Stooke (James 70), Hudson, Cox, Kvesic, Evans (Moriarty 67).

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Attendance: 13,238