Saints make it a merry Christmas as they snatch dramatic win against Gloucester

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Saints made it five wins in a row and a merry Christmas as they secured an incredibly dramatic bonus-point 31-29 success at Gloucester on Saturday afternoon.

Adam Hastings lined up a penalty attempt that could have won it for the Cherry and Whites with the final kick of the game, but he dropped it short and Saints booted the ball out to put the seal on a brilliant win.

Phil Dowson's men had roared into a 24-7 lead during the first half but Rory Hutchinson was hit with a yellow card on the brink of the break and Chris Harris scored to give Gloucester fresh hope.

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The hosts came out firing in the second period and they came all the way back to lead 29-24 with the momentum all against Saints.

Curtis Langdon scored twice for Saints (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Curtis Langdon scored twice for Saints (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Curtis Langdon scored twice for Saints (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

But out of nowhere, the away side delivered a stunning sucker punch as Tom Litchfield and Alex Mitchell combined superbly down the left before Litchfield finished it off.

Fin Smith held his nerve to convert in fantastic fashion from the touchline and Saints led.

But Gloucester kept coming and they had the chance to win it when referee Hamish Smales handed them a kickable late penalty.

Hastings couldn't make it though, and Saints celebrated.

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The black, green and gold had headed to Kingsholm on the back of four successive wins, against Harlequins, Saracens, Glasgow Warriors and Toulon.

And Saints came out of the blocks quickly, putting huge pressure on the home line, Mitchell making the most of it as he stretched out an arm to score under the posts.

Smith converted to make it 7-0 after just five minutes and Saints continued to play on the front foot.

Alex Coles won a turnover in the home half, allowing Smith to kick a penalty to the corner.

And Saints played with real pace before Coles powered over.

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Smith sent the conversion just wide and Saints were finally under pressure when Gloucester started to win penalties in the away half.

Saints stood tall to turn over one lineout drive but Gloucester won a scrum penalty to keep the heat on.

Some more determined defending saw Saints hold the home side up over the line before they were finally able to clear their lines.

And after some more high-tempo play inside the Gloucester half, Coles came agonisingly close to scoring his second.

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Gloucester looked set to escape when Ollie Thorley intercepted, but Courtney Lawes won a penalty at the breakdown to help Saints keep the pressure on.

Saints set up the lineout and they managed to splinter the home pack, allowing Curtis Langdon to grab his side's third try from the maul.

Smith missed the conversion and Gloucester were straight back at Saints' door, applying huge swathes of pressure before Freddie Clarke found space out wide to score.

Hastings converted to cut the gap to 10 points and Gloucester looked to be building something.

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But Saints snuffed out attempts to score a second, and they then showed their ability on the break.

Litchfield did some superb work down the left, offloading for Tommy Freeman, and after Saints moved the ball so quickly, Langdon delivered with a fantastic finish.

Smith converted and Saints had the try bonus point as well as a 24-7 lead.

But Saints couldn't secure the restart and that was to cause them real problems.

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Gloucester won a penalty at the scrum and then forced a man into the bin as Hutchinson was yellow carded for a high tackle.

It was to get worse for Saints as Gloucester stayed patient and Harris cut in from the right to deliver a timely finish for his team.

Hastings slotted the conversion superbly and Saints' lead was cut to just 10 points.

The away side changed their whole front row at half-time, but Gloucester kept coming as they continued to win penalties in Saints territory.

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Gloucester were held up by some last-gasp Saints defending, but after the away side overthrew a lineout, the Cherry and Whites pounced as Mattias Alemanno powered over.

Hastings missed the conversion but Saints were now just five points up and Gloucester had all the momentum.

Saints tried to turn the tables but after they lost the ball during an attack, Gloucester pieced together a superb-counter-attacking score, which eventually ended with Santiago Carreras dancing his way through.

Hastings converted and Gloucester led for the first time in the match.

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Saints were all at sea and they were struggling at set-piece time.

Hastings extended the home lead after Gloucester won a penalty at Saints scrum, and the mountain was getting steeper all the time.

Juarno Augustus was brought on in a bid to inject some life into Saints, and he made one huge carry, but Gloucester got off the hook.

However, Saints somehow summoned some counter-attacking magic, firing the ball to the left, where Litchfield and Mitchell combined in incredible fashion to allow Litchfield to go over in the corner.

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Smith held his nerve to convert from the touchline and Saints led by two points with 15 minutes still to play.

The game started to level out but after Litchfield found himself in trouble thanks to a Gloucester grubber, the home side got a lineout in the Saints 22.

The Cherry and Whites knocked on twice to lose two attacking positions and Saints pushed them up the field before giving away a penalty that lost them ground.

Gloucester had a lineout in Saints territory and then won a penalty, giving Hastings a tough penalty chance to win it.

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But he dropped his kick short, Saints gathered it and booted the ball out to secure a memorable away win.

Gloucester: Carreras; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Llewellyn (S Atkinson 57), Thorley; Hastings, Varney; Elrington (Ford-Robinson 57), Socino (McGuigan 43), Balmain (Gotovtsev 43); Clarke (Jordan 66), Alemanno; Ackermann (Clement 62), Ludlow (c), Mercer.

Saints: Furbank (c); Litchfield, Dingwall (Savala 74), Hutchinson, Freeman; F Smith, Mitchell; E Waller (Haffar 40), Langdon (S Matavesi 40), Hill (Millar Mills 40); Mayanavanua (Munga 55), Coles; Lawes, Pearson, Graham (Augustus 60).

Referee: Hamish Smales