Premiership: Northampton Saints 23-20 Gloucester

Northampton v Gloucester
Gloucester had beaten Sale and drawn with Worcester and Exeter away this season
Northampton (13) 23
Tries: Picamoles, Kessell Pens: Myler 3 Cons: Myler 2
Gloucester (3) 20
Tries: Rowan, Sharples Pens: Laidlaw 2 Cons: Laidlaw 2

Northampton held off a fine Gloucester fightback to battle their way to a Premiership win at Franklin's Gardens.

France number eight Louis Picamoles' disputed try, after there appeared to be double movement, put Saints on the board as they led 13-3 at half-time.

Gloucester flanker Jacob Rowan reduced the deficit and wing Charlie Sharples finished a flowing team move to give the Cherry and Whites the lead.

Tom Kessell put Saints in front before James Hook missed a penalty to level.

Former Wales fly-half Hook's kick five minutes before full-time and from just inside his own half was straight but fell short of the posts.

Northampton second row Courtney Lawes was absent with a knee injury that will require a scan next week, raising doubts around his availability for England's autumn internationals.

Defeat ended Gloucester's unbeaten away record in the Premiership this season, but there was an air of controversy about the way they went behind.

Referee Tom Foley seemed to overrule the initial advice given to him by the television match official that Picamoles grounded the ball before crossing, instead deciding he was driven over fairly.

The accuracy of both starting kickers also proved crucial - the usually reliable Gloucester skipper Greig Laidlaw missed two first-half penalties, while Saints' Stephen Myler sent over all five kicks from the tee.

Rowan and Sharples' scores in each corner gave the visitors a chance of their second league win of the season, but with 10 minutes to go, replacement scrum-half Kessell latched on to the magnificent Picamoles' offload to cross.

Jacob Rowan
Jacob Rowan scored his first Premiership try for Gloucester

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder:

"It was a close game. Gloucester showed some really good line speed in defence and put us under pressure.

"We didn't control the ball, we conceded a couple of tries which were loose, but we got there in the end. The subs did really well: Paul Hill, Dylan Hartley and Api (Ratuniyarawa) made an impact and that put them under pressure.

"Louis Picamoles has continued to impress. Some of his offloading skills are sublime; the pass to Kessell was outstanding today. He is world-class.

"We are not playing at the top of our game, but we have the players - we have done it before."

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:

"It is a bitter pill to swallow. For large parts of the game we were the better team.

"Our defence was absolutely magnificent and really didn't allow Northampton to play at any stage but, ultimately, too many penalties around the set-piece tonight cost us the opportunity to win a game I thought we deserved to win."

Louis Picamoles
Louis Picamoles joined Saints from Toulouse on a three-year deal at the start of the season

Northampton: Foden; Wilson, G Pisi, Mallinder North; Myler, Dickson; Waller, Haywood, Brookes, Paterson, Day, Wood (capt), Clark, Picamoles.

Replacements: Hartley, Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson, Kessell, Hutchinson, Tuala.

Gloucester: Hook; Sharples, Scott, Atkinson, May; Twelvetrees, Laidlaw (capt); McAllister, Hibbard, Afoa, Savage, Galarza, Moriarty, Rowan, Morgan.

Replacements: Matu'u, Orr, Ma'afu, Latta, Kvesic, Heinz, Burns, Purdy.

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