Northampton Saints 34 Gloucester 20: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings
On the day Saints finally welcomed home supporters without a Covid-influenced capacity cap, there was an apt conclusion.
Because the man who scored the most memorable try in the history of Franklin’s Gardens - well before it added the words 'cinch Stadium at' to its title - did it again.
With 14 men, it was Wood. Wooooooood.
At the other end of the ground from where he tamed Leicester Tigers, Tom Wood again scored a decisive try with his team down a man.
A collective sigh of relief could be heard from the stands as he picked up the pieces from yet another excellent surge from flying full-back George Furbank.
The conversion was soon added by Furbank, who put the icing on his personal cake, and Saints could enjoy the comfort not only of a 14-point lead with five minutes to play, but a bonus point, too.
It was the kind of conclusion many fans who have been kept away from the Gardens will have dreamed of for so long.
No, this wasn’t vintage Saints.
But on days like these all that matters are good memories and maximum points.
Both teams were guilty of making basic errors throughout, but when you consider the amount of players they were missing and the fact this was the first game of the season, that could be excused.
It made for a frantic, frenetic and fragmented spectacle at times.
And whenever a team looked like taking control, the game swung back wildly in the other direction.
Saints had the chances to put it to bed before the break.
But their handling and lineout work wasn’t totally accurate, and Gloucester got off the hook, having twice been hit by sin-binnings.
Saints eventually made them pay during the formative stages of the second period.
But Gloucester wouldn’t go away, and the nerves were really jangling when Saints found themselves just seven points up and a man down in the final 10 minutes.
But there was fairly young hero Furbank and fairly old hero Wood to save the day.
And as starts to a season go, it was a fairly fitting one.
How they rated…
GEORGE FURBANK - CHRON STAR MAN
An exceptional display from the full-back, who played a part in all four tries, scoring one and then helping to influence the other three. He was back to his flying best here… 9
Tried to use his fast footwork to trouble Gloucester and showed real desire with ball in hand as he tried to push his team forward... 7
A commanding display that laid the foundations for Saints’ attacking play. He was a warrior in defence and attack, showing great physicality to push his team forward and the opposition back… 8.5
Was an injury doubt before the game but he soldiered on and showed some glimpses of his class, though he did miss a tackle here and there... 6.5
Couldn't really get in the game as Saints struggled to get the ball to him in space, and he had to do more defending than attacking, missing a few tackles here and there... 6.5
Blotted his copy book with a yellow card that could have been avoided, but he racked up 17 points on the day and largely pulled the strings pretty well... 7.5
Looks such a threat with ball in hand, with his razor-sharp play cutting Gloucester apart on a few occasions... 8
A steady enough showing from the prop, who was hungry to help his team get off to a winning start at home... 6
Showed some nice touches in open play but was fortunate to escape after one pass was intercepted and the lineout work didn't always go as well as he would have hoped... 6
Was harshly penalised at one point during the first half but he looked to have a say in open play and there was no shortage of desire... 6
Looked a little rusty at times, which was understandable as he was suspended for both pre-season games, but there was no shortage of desire as he also looked a threat at lineout time... 6
Made a couple of key interventions to help Saints stop Gloucester in their tracks and this was a decent shift... 6.5
Just keeps rolling on. Started his 12th season at Saints in style, showing some deft touches and eventually dotting down to deliver the try that gave his team some welcome breathing space... 8
A typically tenacious showing from the skipper, who once again thundered around the field and got through plenty of work... 7.5
Caused Gloucester problems with his physicality during the first half, hammering into opposition players in trademark fashion... 7.5
Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)
NICK AUTERAC (for Waller 46)
Made an instant impact, scoring his first Saints try with pretty much his first touch of the game, and he also had an impact in the scrum... 7.5
PAUL HILL (for Painter 46)
Won a key penalty for his team and will hope to build another big season after impressing on several occasions last time round... 7
API RATUNIYARAWA (for Moon 46)
A strong showing from the bench from the Fiji lock as he helped Saints to keep the energy levels high... 6.5
JUARNO AUGUSTUS (for Harrison 50)
What an impact from the South African No.8, who proved too hot for Gloucester to handle at times and who won a key turnover to help seal the win... 8
MIKE HAYWOOD (for Fish 55)
A really important cameo from the hooker as he helped to steady the ship a little, showing good ball security and keeping the lineout functioning... 7