Gloucester Rugby battled to the very last minute at Franklin’s Gardens and will consider themselves unlucky to only take two points away for their efforts, a number of marginal calls going against them in a 33-26 away defeat at Northampton Saints, Louis Rees-Zammit scoring a hat-trick.
Not too many teams will come away from Franklin’s Gardens with two points, but it always felt that the Cherry and Whites were very much in this game and could have nicked the result. However, they couldn't quite get back on terms in the second half.
Ultimately, Gloucester Rugby paid the price for a first 40 minutes when, in the words of Head Coach Johan Ackermann, they ‘…didn’t fire any shots…’ apart from Louis Rees-Zammit’s try to open the scoring.
However, the second half was much better and the team played with real spirit. In fact, had it not been for a couple of 50-50 calls going against the Cherry and Whites, they could easily have taken the spoils.
Rees-Zammit’s first half try was a little against the run of play, the winger running onto Mark Atkinson’s well-judged grubber to score. But the remainder of the half saw the Saints pile on the pressure and they went into half-time with a 13-7 lead courtesy of a Haywood catch and drive try and a conversion and two penalties from Dan Biggar.
Injuries forced a reshuffle at half-time and Northampton took full advantage as Cobus Reinach sneaked home under the posts. But the response was immediate as Chris Harris crossed for the Cherry and Whites.
Then followed a key moment as there appeared to be a tip tackle on a Gloucester ball-carrier. Play went on, a pass went loose and Reinach pounced to hack downfield and then gather to score for his second.
Rees-Zammit added his second as the backs showed what they’re capable of with ball in hand, and more chances followed but a yellow card to Josh Hohneck on the hour mark after an intervention from the TMO was a blow.
Cipriani was then denied a spectacular try, again as the TMO offered his input and ruled there tp be a foot in touch, but Rees-Zammit completed his hat-trick to set up a potential grandstand finish. However, a penalty conceded at a maul allowed Piers Francis to slot a late penalty and make the final score 33-26.