Nerveless Billy Twelvetrees boots Gloucester Rugby to first league win over Northampton Saints
GLOUCESTER 26 NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 24
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BILLY Twelvetrees’ nerveless final-play penalty strike handed Gloucester their first Premiership win of the season after a pulsating Kingsholm encounter.
Wing Jamie Elliott’s converted try snatched a 24-23 Northampton lead with just one minute to play.
George North brushed off three defenders, before Calum Clark and Lee Dickson sent Elliott home, with Stephen Myler adding the extras.
Undeterred, Gloucester pilfered victory back with the game’s final kick though.
First Northampton knocked on at the restart, then Gloucester claimed a penalty at the scrum.
The Saints were incensed on two counts – first, claiming Gloucester had at least four men offside from the drop-out, then alleging number eight Ben Morgan illegally knocked the ball back into the scrum.
Saints’ back-row and scrum-half Dickson chased what they thought was a loose ball from the set-piece, only to be judged offside by referee Martin Fox.
Unfazed centre Twelvetrees stepped up and landed the 40-metre goal, securing victory for the elated Cherry and Whites.
Defeat would have condemned Gloucester to their worst-ever start to a Premiership campaign.
Relieved and elated rugby director Davies said a Gloucester win was the right result, even if it came through questionable circumstances.
Davies explained: “My old mentor Gareth Jenkins said he’d just come back from watching a local team play, and he’d heard on the car radio that Gloucester had lost.
“But by the time he got in the house, Gloucester had won.
“It was a very dramatic ending to what was a fabulous game of rugby.
“It’s vitally important to get the win, to build momentum.
“I could show about 30 incidents I wouldn’t be happy with either: sometimes you get the rub of the green and sometimes you don’t.
“More importantly from our perspective, I felt we deserved to win overall with the performance we put in.
“There were a lot of chances that we missed in the game, especially in the first-half there were two clear-cut opportunities that we should have finished off.”
The Cherry and Whites thought they had the game won at 23-17 when James Simpson-Daniel’s mercurial break handed debutant Elliott Stooke a try.
But with two minutes to play George North ploughed through three flimsy tackles, and Elliott romped clear.
Then came the restart, scrum, penalty – and Twelvetrees’ winning strike.
Ben Foden’s early score handed Saints a 7-0 lead, before Burns notched a penalty.
Gloucester pressed but could not capitalise on Northampton back-rower Sam Dickinson’s 21st-minute yellow card.
Henry Trinder knocked on with the tryline at his mercy after a defence-turning grubber from Burns.
Then Sione Kalamafoni’s wild pass found no one when it should have sent Simpson-Daniel into the left corner.
Myler’s penalty edged Saints into a 10-3 lead with half-time approaching.
But just a minute before the break Gloucester finally converted their eighth attacking platform in the Saints 22, Charlie Sharples wriggling home for a neat try.
Twelvetrees powered home for a try thanks to a Jimmy Cowan quick-tap penalty after the restart.
Samu Manoa capped a driving maul to bring Saints level at 15-15 just three minutes later though.
Sharples then produced a try-saving tackle on North, before Burns edged Gloucester ahead 18-17 from the tee.
Stooke’s score looked to have Gloucester closing out victory.
First the home side got lucky when Luther Burrell’s pass to North was called forward – otherwise the Welsh powerhouse was clean away.
Then British Lions hero North set Saints away for Elliott’s try and Gloucester shoulders visibly sagged under the posts as Myler slotted the extras.
That final-play scrum penalty offered the reprieve though – and Twelvetrees delivered.
GLOUCESTER: Tries: Sharples (39), Twelvetrees (42), Stooke (67). Cons: Burns (42). Pens: Burns 2 (14, 55), Twelvetrees (80).
NORTHAMPTON: Tries: Foden (6), Manoa (45), Elliott (79). Cons: Myler 3 (6, 45, 79). Pens: Myler (37).
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples (J May, 75), H Trinder, B Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel (J May, blood 21-25), F Burns (M Tindall, 70), J Cowan (D Robson, 75), D Murphy (Y Thomas, 68), D Dawidiuk (K Britton, 73), R Harden (S Knight, 68), T Savage (capt) (W James, 68), E Stooke, M Kvesic, A Qera (B Morgan, 64), S Kalamafoni.
NORTHAMPTON: B Foden, J Elliott, J Wilson (G Pisi, 46), L Burrell, G North, S Myler, K Fotuali’I (L Dickson, 54), A Waller (E Waller, 68), D Hartley (capt) (M Heywood, 73), T Mercey (G Denman, 68), S Manoa (P Dowson, 63), C Day, T Wood, C Clark, S Dickinson. Unused: GJ Van Velze, K Pisi.
REFEREE: Martin Fox.