Shocker for Saints as they fall flat against Gloucester
Saints turned in one of their worst displays in recent history as they suffered a sobering 31-7 defeat to Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
It was a shocking showing from the black, green and gold, who barely threatened a Gloucester side who came into the game sitting 10th in the Gallagher Premiership.
The Cherry and Whites had won just one of their past 11 league away games and had won just one of their past seven matches at the Gardens.
But they were completely untroubled by an alarmingly flat Saints side, who couldn't get anything going at any point, shipping an avalanche of penalties and losing an abundance of lineouts.
To make matters worse, Saints lost Dan Biggar to concussion following a first-half collision with Billy Twelvetrees
The hosts were already up against it at that point and it only continued to get worse, minute by minute, as Saints' top-four hopes took a major hit.
Both teams went into the game on the back of a weekend off, but it was Gloucester who were far sharper from the off as Saints looked completely lethargic.
The away side were handed the chance to earn an early lead as Saints offended at the breakdown, allowing Twelvetrees to bag the three points.
Saints were struggling to get anything going, conceding penalty after penalty to allow their opponents to grow into the game.
Gloucester turned to the lineout drive in the bid to make their early pressure pay, but Saints held firm to stop the away side in their tracks.
But it wasn't long before Gloucester got the try they deserved as Mark Atkinson and Santiago Carreras combined to send Louis Rees-Zammit in out wide.
Twelvetrees kicked the conversion well from the touchline and Saints were 10-0 down inside 15 minutes.
It was to get worse a few minutes later as Biggar was involved in a heavy collision with Twelvetrees, leaving the Saints fly-half prone on the Gardens turf.
He headed off for a HIA, bringing Taqele Naiyaravoro into the action, but Saints were still on the back foot.
Twelvetrees missed a penalty chance before news came that Biggar had failed his HIA.
Saints were struggling in all areas, losing lineout after lineout and shipping penalty after penalty.
It was turning into a horror show from the home side, who were fortunate to be only 10 points down at the break.
Saints fans watching on television would have hoped for huge improvement at the start of the second half, but George Furbank, who had moved to 10 in place of Biggar, booted the kick-off out on the full before Gloucester won a penalty at the resulting scrum.
Furbank was at fault again on 48 minutes as he fired a crossfield kick from inside his own 22, but Jordy Reid was there to gather it and Gloucester worked their way over through Ed Slater.
Twelvetrees missed the conversion but Saints were now 15-0 down with few signs of life in the home side.
Twelvetrees made up for his miss with a successful penalty as the Cherry and Whites continued to pile on the pain.
Saints were all at sea and after Rees-Zammit chased down a kick to score, Carreras and Piers Francis were sin-binned for their part in a post-try scuffle.
Twelvetrees failed to add the extras to his side's bonus-point score, with only the wayward boot of the Gloucester 10 saving Saints from even more humiliation.
Gloucester were soon down to 13 men as Tom Seabrook was sin-binned but still the away side put in big hit after big hit as they sought to completely shut Saints down.
But finally the zero was removed from the scoreboard as Henry Taylor found his way over the line.
Rory Hutchinson converted but that was to be it for Saints on a day when joy was in the shortest of supply.
Saints: Furbank; Proctor, Hutchinson, Francis, Freeman; Biggar (Naiyaravoro 20), James (Taylor 57); Waller (cc) (Auterac 53), Matavesi (Fish 53), Hill (Painter 53); Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa (Moon 57); Wood, Ludlam (cc) (Adendorff 62), Harrison.
Gloucester: Moyle; Rees-Zammit (Seabrook 62), Kveseladze, Atikinson, Carreras; Twelvetrees, Chapman (Heinz 10); Rapava-Ruskin (O'Connor 78), Singleton (Socino 62), Balmain (Ford-Robinson 65); Slater, Alemanno; Reid, Ludlow (c) (Morgan 70), Ackermann (Clement 62).
Referee: Ian Tempest