Adam Hastings misses late penalty as Gloucester defeated by Northampton
Hastings’ failure took Gloucester’s losing run in the league to seven games but it was rough justice on them for they had dominated a one-sided second half.
When the hosts trailed 24-7 after 35 minutes, another loss looked a near certainty but a yellow card for Saints centre Rory Hutchinson saw an instant change in momentum as Gloucester scored 22 unanswered points.
Northampton’s early pressure was rewarded with a fourth-minute try from Mitchell. Saints turned down a kickable penalty in favour of more attacking options and it proved the correct call when the scrum-half’ s outstretched hand proved just enough to secure the touchdown.
Saints continued their explosive start to score a second try within three minutes when Coles crashed over as Gloucester struggled to cope with their opponents’ power.
Aided by a number of penalty awards in their favour, the home side gained a foothold in the match but thrice in quick succession, their famed driving line-out was thwarted by solid defence from Saints.
The visitors soon illustrated how to capitalise from a close-range line-out. Skilful interplay from centres Hutchinson and Fraser Dingwall took them into the home 22 to establish a position from where Langdon powered over.
Gloucester desperately needed a response and they got one when they changed their tactics from a line-out. This time they ignored their customary drive to spin the ball wide and confuse the Northampton defence for Clarke to take advantage and score.
The hosts controlled the second quarter but their opponents broke out to score their bonus-point try. Excellent handling helped George Furbank and Tommy Freeman to make ground down the left and when the ball was recycled, Langdon powered past two defenders to score his second try.
As half-time approached, Hutchinson was sin-binned for a high tackle on Ollie Thorley for Gloucester to capitalise immediately with a try from Harris to leave them trailing 24-14 at the interval.
With Hutchinson still absent, Gloucester bombarded the visitors’ line and were able to reduce the arrears when Alemanno forced his way over.
Hutchinson returned but he could not shift the momentum back his side’s way as Gloucester took the lead for the first time when Carreras finished a flowing move for the bonus-point try.
Hastings converted and added a penalty to leave the hosts with a five-point lead going into the final quarter.
Out of the blue, Northampton regained the lead when they broke out of defence for Mitchell to send Litchfield racing into the corner, with Smith knocking over the match-winning conversion from the touchline.
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