Northampton Saints 31 Gloucester 40: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Rory Hutchinson scored a superb try for Saints but it wasn't enough to salvage a losing bonus point
Rory Hutchinson scored a superb try for Saints but it wasn't enough to salvage a losing bonus point

There is little point in possessing a Ferrari if it doesn't have any brakes.

And that is a lesson Saints have learned during the past couple of weeks, which have seen them blown off course in two competitions despite racking up a total of 10 tries.

They notched five at Stade Marcel Michelin in a 61-38 European Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat to Clermont Auvergne before scoring just as many against Gloucester on Sunday.

But just as against the French giants, they simply could not halt the opposition as the Cherry and Whites delivered an eye-watering six scores at Franklin's Gardens.

In a wide open game, Saints will be ruing key moments when they switched off and allowed Gloucester to glide in.

Especially just before the break, when a Cobus Reinach score had brought the black, green and gold back to just two points down.

Teimana Harrison skippered Saints

Teimana Harrison skippered Saints

It should have breathed new life into their second-half victory bid, but instead, Gloucester cut through Saints again to score a bonus-point effort that moved them seven points ahead.

And after Johan Ackermann's men grabbed the first try after the break, Saints had given themselves another mountain to climb.

There were still plenty of flashes of class from the hosts, including a sublime try-of-the-week contender from Rory Hutchinson.

But again Saints had given themselves too much work to do.

Taqele Naiyaravoro had another eventful afternoon

Taqele Naiyaravoro had another eventful afternoon

They know they can slice through some of Europe's best sides when they are playing with the swagger that has been instilled in recent times.

But they also know that can make them vulnerable as they occasionally lose concentration and speed against the counter-attack and in defence in general.

Without fixing that, their flashy play will continue to go unrewarded.

But the good news is that they won't be playing teams with the quality of attacking play Clermont and Gloucester possess every week.

Dan Biggar did his best to push Saints on

Dan Biggar did his best to push Saints on

Eventually, Saints, who have been much better in the scrum as the season has gone on, will have to find a way to deal with those streetwise sides and surpass them.

For now, they are behind them in terms of the amount of time they have had to rebuild and to develop their own unique style.

But the talented group of youngsters will only get better for experiences like this, which boss Chris Boyd labelled 'a bitter lesson'.

Saints should still fancy their chances of bouncing back at Harlequins on Saturday, even though their hosts sit seven points ahead of them in the standings.

Quins have lost their past three matches and did not look too impressive in those games.

Saints will know they can conquer the Stoop with their slick attacking game, but they must now ensure their determination going forward is mirrored going the other way.

Api Ratuniyarawa made an impact in the second half

Api Ratuniyarawa made an impact in the second half

If it is, the play-off bid will be back on come Saturday evening.

If it isn't, the top four will most likely have moved too far away towards the end of a campaign that has been a real roller-coaster ride.

How they rated...

GEORGE FURBANK

A steady showing from the full-back, who was denied a try by a high tackle and who was tested defensively... 6

AHSEE TUALA

One lovely piece of play opened the door for Reinach's score and he was always looking for openings but had to do a bit of defensive work, too... 6

RORY HUTCHINSON

Scored a superb try late on in another illustration of his attacking class, but Gloucester gave Saints a tough day going the other way... 7

PIERS FRANCIS

Showed good awareness and execution to pick up and score during the first period, but Gloucester provided a tough midfield battle... 6

TAQELE NAIYARAVORO

Is currently an attack coach's dream but a defence coach's nightmare as he showed his brilliance with ball in hand but prompted groans from fans in defence and was yellow carded... 5

DAN BIGGAR

Couldn't quite get the control he was looking for, despite not playing badly, as Gloucester's backs stole the show... 6

COBUS REINACH

Is now the Premiership's top scorer with 11 tries after bagging another impressive score but it wasn't enough on this occasion... 7

FRANCOIS VAN WYK

Was strong in the scrum once again and didn't miss a tackle on another decent afternoon for the rapidly improving prop... 7

REECE MARSHALL

Etched his name on the scoresheet with a trademark Saints hooker's try and provided plenty of energy as usual... 7

PAUL HILL

Was more than a match for Josh Hohneck in the scrum and did his bit when it came to carrying, too... 7

ALEX MOON

Was unfortunate to suffer an injury that brought his game, and potentially his season, to a premature end after another physical display... 6

COURTNEY LAWES

Did everything he could to get Saints back in the game during the second half as he constantly got his hands on the ball but Gloucester wouldn't budge... 7

LEWIS LUDLAM

Was his typically menacing self at the breakdown on a couple of occasions but took a knock the forced him off before he came back on during the second half... 6

HEINRICH BRUSSOW

Suffered a big injury blow as he was down for some time with concussion, which looks like it may have ended his season... 6

TEIMANA HARRISON

Timed the offload for Reinach's try perfectly and put his body on the line in the bid to help Saints combat Gloucester... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

API RATUNIYARAWA (for Moon 40)

Conceded a couple of penalties but his display was largely positive as he got involved in trying to put Gloucester under pressure with some big carries... 6

JAMIE GIBSON (for Ludlam 44)

Did plenty of good things again in a decent cameo and will now hope for starts in the next few weeks... 6

CHRON STAR MAN - Mark Atkinson (Gloucester)