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Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 27-16 Northampton Saints

Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 27-16 Northampton Saints

Danny Cipriani didn’t take long to endear himself to the Gloucester Rugby faithful as a brilliant all-round display helped the Cherry and Whites get their season off to the perfect start with a 27-16 win over Northampton Saints.

If it was a battle of the new marquee fly-halves at Kingsholm, then Cipriani certainly got the better of the PRO14’s all-time top points scorer Dan Biggar on his Gallagher Premiership Rugby debut – the highlight being a brilliant 21-metre, looping pass to assist Charlie Sharples’ try.

James Hanson had already dotted down to give Gloucester an early lead and although Piers Francis and Courtney Lawes crossed for the visitors, Billy Twelvetrees’ 17 points from the tee outshone Biggar’s six and made the difference.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Cipriani pulled the strings from fly-half and made an exciting Gloucester back-line – which also includes the likes of Twelvetrees, Jason Woodward and Matt Banahan – tick.

He was a constant force in attack – the assist for Sharples’ try is an early contender for pass of the season and he also made eight carries.

With Twelvetrees seemingly taking care of kicks from the tee, Cipriani can fully focus on channeling his creative instincts from No.10 and will certainly give Gloucester an added je ne sais quoi this season.

TRY OF THE MATCH

Ahsee Tuala became a mainstay at full-back for the Saints in the second half of last season and shows no signs of relinquishing his hold on the No.15 jersey.

For Northampton’s first try, he hitch-kicked from an almost standing start, bulldozed down the left touchline, gave a huge hand-off to Callum Braley, spun out of a tackle and then produced an offload out of the back of his hand to set up Francis for the simple score.

It was a moment of brilliance from the Samoan powerhouse.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

The moment of the match has to be what everybody was talking about as soon as it happened, and probably will be for the rest of the week – Cipriani’s pass.

Off the back of a dominating scrum, Braley fed the 30-year-old and he lofted a pinpoint pass over three Saints defenders right into the bread-basket of Sharples.

Perhaps surprised at the speed of the pass, the winger actually juggled the ball but held on and darted over the whitewash for his team’s second try.

WHAT THEY SAID

Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said: “Danny [Cipriani] is backing himself in training, and it worked for him here. All the players have a license to play what they see.

“We didn’t speak (to Cipriani before he signed for Gloucester) about goals and where we want to be, we just said we want this club to be competitive, to play exciting rugby and to improve, and Danny was excited when he looked at the squad.

“He believes his way of playing will suit my philosophy, and he is excited to give it a go. So far, so good.

“I’m relieved to get the first one out of the way. The first one is especially nervous because you train for six or seven weeks in pre-season and you can’t take anything much from the warm-up games.

“There’s so much rugby left this season we don’t want to get carried away but it was a good start. However, it was far from perfect so there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Northampton head coach Chris Boyd said: “It is going to be a battle if you concede 21 penalties. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game that a team has conceded 21 times but it’s something I will have to get used to – or not!

“Dan [Biggar] was a mixed bag. The guy sets incredibly high standards and he’s got his head down in the changing room.

“I’m grumpy. At the end of the day, we scored two tries each but we had enough opportunities to win that game.

“We came here with an expectation to win but we didn’t get it so we’re disappointed.

“I can’t fault the guys with their intent and the fact that they tried, but we just weren’t accurate enough and disciplined enough so that’s got to change.

“Dylan Hartley has been chomping at the bit, so for him to get 40 minutes was good. He will be involved again on Friday (against Harlequins).”

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