Gloucester 14 Northampton Saints 12: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Tom Wood made 28 tackles in the defeat at Kingsholm (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Tom Wood made 28 tackles in the defeat at Kingsholm (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

The strange nature of top-level rugby was showcased in the space of five days, with Saints going from fortunate winners to unlucky losers.

At the Ricoh Arena last Sunday, Chris Boyd's men played poorly but eventually prevailed thanks to a late Mitch Eadie try and James Grayson conversion.

But at Kingsholm on Friday night, the tables were turned as Saints played well and eventually lost thanks to a Gerbrant Grobler try and Billy Twelvetrees' conversion.

If Saints got out of jail in Coventry, they were locked up in the second half at Gloucester.

Wave after wave of Cherry and White pressure eventually paid off, with Saints left slumped on the turf after a gargantuan defensive showing.

The amount of work they were made to do was illustrated by their individual tackle counts, with skipper Tom Wood racking up an incredible 28.

But the Saints wall eventually fell down in windy conditions as Grobler just managed to ground the ball.

Not that referee Greg Macdonald was sure about it, initially awarding the scrum before consulting his TMO and confirming Gloucester had the try that, thanks to Twelvetrees' simple conversion, would win them the game.

It was not a night to remember for the officials, who failed to punish plenty of infringements.

But Saints certainly had the most reason to feel aggrieved as Macdonald and his TMO missed Twelvetrees' clear knock-on in the build up to Matt Banahan's first-half score.

There also appeared to be a knock-on at a late Gloucester scrum, while Macdonald did penalise George Furbank for barely breathing on the ball at one point in the first period.

Saints would not criticise the officials after the game, instead focusing on their own shortcomings.

And that was fair enough, as they rightly felt they had failed to manage the game properly in the closing stages.

They struggled to keep hold of the ball and their game management was not good enough, inviting Gloucester pressure time and again.

But it looked like the home side had run out of ideas before the Grobler try.

In fact, the Kingsholm faithful were hugely frustrated with their side, with groans greeting attempted crossfield kicks.

Saints looked to be producing the perfect away-day performance, the opposite of what it seemed they had delivered before the clock struck 80 in Coventry five days earlier.

But rugby is a funny old game and unfortunately for Saints, they were not left laughing on this occasion.

How they rated...

GEORGE FURBANK

Did not look out of place in a game full of talented backs and his security in tricky conditions was striking, while he also played a key role in the Piers Francis try... 7

TOM COLLINS

Did some superb work to help release Cobus Reinach for the South African's score, and battled on bravely after a big second-half collision... 7

FRASER DINGWALL

Is growing into the shirt with every game and Saints will have no qualms about throwing him into Premiership action in the weeks to come... 7

PIERS FRANCIS

Was only on the field for 16 minutes, but by the time he departed with a head injury, he had already scored a try and looked sharp

TAQELE NAIYARAVORO

Was the only Saints starting back that didn't really get in the game, barely touching the ball on the night... 5

JAMES GRAYSON

Missed a couple of kicks from the tee in tricky conditions and also provided the inadvertent pass for Matt Banahan's try, but other than that he did really well... 6

COBUS REINACH

Was back to his razor-sharp best, reaping the benefits of a recent rest as he raced to collect his own kick to score the try that should have won the game... 8

WILL DAVIS

Not a bad night for Saints in the scrum and this man didn't look out of place as he continues to adjust to life at a higher level... 6

MIKE HAYWOOD

Not the way he would have wanted his 200th Saints appearance to go as he was forced off early on with an unfortunate injury... 6

PAUL HILL

Was hungry to get involved as he made his first appearance under new boss Chris Boyd and did do well, apart from a silly first-half sin-binning... 6

DAVID RIBBANS

As ever, the lock was a towering presence, ensuring lineouts didn't go awry in tricky conditions, and carrying and defending well... 7

ALEX MOON

Carried so often for Saints, trying to keep the pressure on Gloucester, especially when his team were on top during the first half... 7

TOM WOOD - CHRON STAR MAN

A huge showing from the skipper as he made a staggering 28 tackles while trying to stop Gloucester in their tracks... 8

LEWIS LUDLAM

Like Wood, this man racked up a huge tackle count, doing everything he could to disrupt Gloucester at every turn... 7

TEIMANA HARRISON

Never shies away from hard work and on a night when Saints had to do plenty of defending, he certainly got stuck in... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

LUTHER BURRELL (for Francis 16)

Was eventually forced off with an injury after doing everything he could to assert himself on the game, making some good carries and defending strongly... 7

JAMES FISH (for Haywood 23)

Got through a huge amount of work after coming off the bench early on and was unlucky to be on the losing side... 7

ALEX WALLER (for Davis 54)

Will be fresh after being given a well-earned rest during the previous couple of weeks, but couldn't really have a say here... 6

API RATUNIYARAWA (for Moon 58)

Always adds some extra power from the bench, but Gloucester were well on top when he came on so defending was the order of the day...6

JAMIE GIBSON (for Harrison 58)

Tried to get amongst Gloucester to stop their momentum, but the home side eventually got the job done... 6