Northampton Saints 22 Gloucester 19: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Nic Groom grabbed Saints' second try against Gloucester (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Nic Groom grabbed Saints' second try against Gloucester (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Rarely has a regular-season victory been celebrated with such fervour at Franklin's Gardens.

The sheer outpouring of relief was palpable as Saints finally ended their painful losing streak.

Seven Aviva Premiership games had come and gone without the taste of triumph.

Saints had only won one of their past 13 matches in all competitions.

So this meant so much to the supporters who had stuck with their team, roaring them on from the stands.

The atmosphere in the final moments of the match was reminiscent of that Leicester Tigers Premiership play-off semi-final in 2014.

A win on this occasion may not have brought the big prize of a trip to Twickenham and the potential of a league title, but it was still extremely significant.

Saints needed to arrest the slide that started when they lost at Gloucester in early October.

And, after showing immense steel to battle back from 19-8 down, they got their new year's wish.

A penalty try, earned in the same area of the field as Tom Wood scored against Leicester, put Saints ahead.

And just as against Tigers, they still had to gather the kick-off and keep the ball.

They did, and Harry Mallinder booted the ball out from almost the same blade of grass Stephen Myler did in that semi-final.

It sparked similar scenes of celebration, with the coaches punching the air in delight, just as Jim Mallinder did when his team toppled their old rivals.

And the noise levels were not much different, with the Saints fans letting go of their frustrations and soaking up some much-needed cheer.

The performance was far from perfect, with plenty of basic errors made by both teams.

And the lineout was again a bit of a struggle for Saints, with Gloucester reading it well.

But those issues were eclipsed by the desire and new-found resilience the green, black and gold displayed.

Their defensive performance was night and day to the one they produced at Twickenham seven days earlier.

And in attack, they eventually managed to find enough composure to prevail.

It was the perfect tonic at the start of 2018 and the only frustration is that there is not another league game next weekend.

In fact, Saints don't return to Premiership action until the trip to Bath on February 9.

And that is a shame because they would love to build up some momentum in the league under the guidance of Alan Gaffney.

The Australian's arrival earlier this week clearly had an instant impact, but he is keen to stress it is the other coaches who have done all the hard graft so far.

Gaffney has just come in and given a few words of wisdom to his new charges.

He has helped to lift confidence levels with his shrewd advice and he joked that he didn't know what all the fuss was about after this win.

He has now seen two games at the Gardens since moving to Northampton, taking in the Wanderers' win against Worcester and this victory against Gloucester.

It has been a nice start for the 72-year-old, who will know things will get tougher against Clermont Auvergne and Saracens in the weeks to come.

But for now, Saints can be forgiven for simply savouring this long overdue Gardens success.

How they rated...


Saints looked more balanced with the Samoan at full-back and he showed a few glimpses of his style... 7

Made a couple of key interventions as Gloucester tried to put Saints under pressure and was much improved... 7

He always puts his body on the line for the team and the Australian made some important hits here... 7

Produced one lovely offload during the first half and relished the front-foot ball he got before being forced off injured... 6

Came in for his first league start since November and was hugely impressive, scoring the first try and playing a key role in the second as he gathered the kick-off... 8

Aside from a couple of misplaced kicks from hand, this was an accomplished display from the youngster... 7

Lifted the tempo for Saints during the second period and showed good awareness to write his name on the scoresheet... 7

Has helped to steady the scrum and he certainly fronts up around the park, making his presence known... 7

The captain had received some criticism from pundits but he produced a decent response here... 6

A better display from the prop, who held his own in the scrum and didn't let his team down in open play... 6

Provides plenty of physicality for Saints and though he couldn't get his offloading game going, he was still crucial in possession... 7

Yet another big display from the lock, who carried the fight time and again, putting Gloucester under pressure... 8

Threw everything he had into the game, showing his desire once again and making some important contributions... 7

Was the only Saints player to impress at Twickenham a week earlier and he picked up where he left off here, making a couple of key tackles and some good metres... 8

A huge display from the No.8, who never takes a backward step and who is a picture of energy... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

KIERAN BROOKES (for Ford-Robinson 47)

Looked strong in open play, carrying well and showing his freshness after a spell on the sidelines... 6

TOM STEPHENSON (for Burrell 48)
Looked really impressive after coming on, making plenty of metres and putting Gloucester on guard... 8

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Hartley 55)
The hooker wasn't able to improve the Saints lineout, which was being read by Gloucester, but his energy was key in helping the team over the line... 7

Teimana Harrison was hugely influential

Teimana Harrison was hugely influential

Saints forced referee Ian Tempest to award a late penalty try

Saints forced referee Ian Tempest to award a late penalty try

Saints celebrated a much-needed victory

Saints celebrated a much-needed victory

The Saints supporters were able to soak up a long overdue victory

The Saints supporters were able to soak up a long overdue victory