Gloucester 31 Northampton Saints 21: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

If Saints fans had written down a list of nightmare scenarios ahead of Saturday’s game at Gloucester, what eventually unfolded ticked all of the boxes.

By Tom Vickers
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 12:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th April 2022, 12:34 pm
Juarno Augustus was a shining light for Saints at Kingsholm
Juarno Augustus was a shining light for Saints at Kingsholm

The end of the five-match winning streak. Tick.

Elimination from the European Challenge Cup. Tick.

An injury to a star player. Tick.

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A red card and possible ban for another key man. Tick.

All in all, it was an extremely costly night at Kingsholm.

But just how costly it will be remains to be seen.

We don’t as yet know the severity of Courtney Lawes’ thumb injury.

And we will have to see what action, if any, is taken against Dan Biggar for the high tackle that led to his dismissal.

If both are forced to miss matches, Saints may look back on this weekend with a real feeling of regret.

But it is still unlikely boss Chris Boyd will think he should have selected anything other than his strongest side.

Because chances of claiming silverware are few and far between in any season, and Saints had one in the Challenge Cup.

However, they fell well short of booking a quarter-final place after producing one of their worst performances for some time.

They really struggled to match Gloucester’ aggression and physicality early in the game, falling 21-0 down without the home side having to work too hard.

The hosts scored from their first two attacks and kept turning the screw up front.

Saints were submerged and struggling to come up with solutions to Gloucester’s now trademark mauling game.

It is almost like a superpower for the Cherry and Whites, something they turn to in times of trouble and when they want to hammer home an advantage.

That they did, but Saints, as they always have under Boyd, kept battling away, even when they were twice reduced to 14 men, the first time due to an Alex Coles yellow and the second due to that Biggar red.

Saints even had a little hope late on as Mike Haywood scored with 15 minutes to go.

But they wasted a couple of lineout chances and failed to take advantage of the territory they enjoyed.

It let Gloucester off the hook and they can now look forward to a home quarter-final.

But the more pressing matters for both sides come in the Premiership in the next two weeks.

Both Saints and Gloucester still harbour very realistic hopes of reaching the play-offs.

But based on this performance, it would seem George Skivington’s side will have the edge.

They have now inflicted each of Saints’ past two defeats, having also won a league encounter between the sides at Kingsholm last month.

The maul made the difference again on that day, and how Saints would love to have such an overwhelming weapon to turn to when times get tough.

They will have to find a way to combat another good forward pack at Bath on Saturday.

But they may have to do that without Lawes and without Biggar.

How they rated…

GEORGE FURBANK

Was always looking to make things happen but got trapped by Gloucester’s kicking game on one occasion… 6

TOMMY FREEMAN

Not the easiest night for the youngster, who had a tough opponent in man of the match Ollie Thorley… 5.5

MATT PROCTOR

Showed his physicality on a couple of occasions and Saints will now hope they can keep him fit for the run-in… 6

RORY HUTCHINSON

When this man is on, he is a joy to watch, and he certainly played with a swagger here, taking advantage of a Gloucester lapse to score… 6.5

TOM COLLINS

Couldn’t add to his try tally here as Gloucester kept him under control well, even though he threatened from deep once or twice… 6

DAN BIGGAR

Hit the post with an early penalty and it set the tone for a tough night as he was dismissed little more than 10 minutes into the second half… 4.5

ALEX MITCHELL

Looked as sharp as ever despite the pressure Saints were under but couldn’t get enough of the ball in dangerous areas… 6

ALEX WALLER

Was penalised once or twice and wasn't really able to make the impact he would have hoped for here... 5.5

SAM MATAVESI

Chances to see this man on the charge in attack were pretty few and far between... 6

PAUL HILL

Another decent shift from the prop, who will be relied upon heavily in the weeks to come... 6

DAVID RIBBANS

Battled hard for his team, desperately trying to gain some ground, but Gloucester dealt with his physicality well... 6

API RATUNIYARAWA

Worked hard in the engine room for little reward and couldn't get his hands free to play his offloading game... 6

COURTNEY LAWES

Didn’t have a chance to make a real impact as a thumb injury forced him off inside 15 minutes

LEWIS LUDLAM

Rarely has a bad game, and he didn’t have one here, fighting until the end for his team… 7

JUARNO AUGUSTUS

A huge effort in a losing cause, the No.8 grabbed a try and caused real problems for Gloucester whenever he got the ball… 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

ALEX COLES (for Lawes 15)

Quickly found himself in the sin bin as the pressure grew on Saints but came back on and largely performed with plenty of desire… 5.5

DANNY HOBBS-AWOYEMI (for Waller 54)

Good to see this man getting some game time after his injury issues, and he battled hard as Saints played most of the second half with 14 men... 6

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Matavesi 54)

The lineout didn't always function well but he etched his name on the scoresheet and this was a fired-up cameo from the hooker... 6

TEIMANA HARRISON (for Ribbans 54)

Was clearly hungry to get involved and his work rate helped Saints keep the game alive during the second half... 6

CHRON STAR MAN - Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)