Wing Jonny May grabbed two tries to inspire Gloucester to their fourth straight Aviva Premiership Robson victory, and their eighth in a row in all competitions, as they won 18-16 at Northampton.
Nicky Robinson kicked two penalties and a conversion to help secure the tight win which consigned Saints to their fifth league loss in succession, their worst run since the 2005/6 season. Gloucester held on for the win despite a second-half Greig Tonks try and three penalties and a conversion from Stephen Myler.
Swindon-born May is the fastest man in the Kingsholm squad and his pace was evident as he crossed twice during a compact first-half performance from resurgent Gloucester. Quick but slightly risky hands from Akapusi Qera and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu gave May the chance to score the match’s opening try.
The 20-year-old scooped up the bouncing ball and promptly scythed through a statuesque Saints defence. Cutting under the posts, May even had time to salute his score on his 35-metre burst.
Myler had opened the scoring with a penalty, but May’s score and Robinson’s conversion reversed that lead. Kick-off had earlier been delayed by five minutes as the ground staff filled two holes in the pitch with soil, solving the problem generated by a sustained earlier downpour.
Saints fly-half Myler doubled his and his side’s tally with a second penalty on 26 minutes, but Gloucester struck again to ensure they went into the break with a handy lead. The dangerous Robinson cut the line cleanly for the second time in the match, feeding Fuimaono-Sapolu who powered into the 22.
The Samoan playmaker had the presence of mind to fire out a speculative pass to onrushing full-back Morgan, who picked up on the bounce and fed on to May. The England Under-20 cap collected and raced in to touch down in the right corner, just evading the Saints cover in time to register his second try.
Saints opened the second half a different side, though, quickly crossing through Tonks. Myler’s clever grubber kick took advantage of acres of space behind Gloucester’s line in their 22, and the Saints full-back was easily first to the ball to pick up and dive home. Myler slotted over the easy conversion to ensure Saints regained the lead by a point.
The former rugby league playmaker then missed a penalty attempt, before England back-five forward Courtney Lawes came off the bench for his first action since injuring a knee at Leicester on January 8th.
Saints pinned Fuimaono-Sapolu into a ruck to concede a penalty, and Welshman Robinson obliged with three points to restore his side’s lead. A penalty won at a maul allowed Robinson to add another three points on the hour-mark, before England and Bath-bound lock Dave Attwood made his league return after his nine-week stamping ban.
Myler cut that lead to two as Saints dominated a scrum for another penalty, but impressive continuity and phase play from Gloucester ran down the clock for a eight minutes. A good maul in the Saints 22 was brought down, and the Cherry and Whites put the penalty into the corner.
Gloucester knocked on at the line-out, prompting frenetic Saints attempts to turn the tide at the death. Saints conceded a scrum penalty to sound the final whistle, though, as their poor form continued.