Premiership: Gloucester 27-16 Northampton Saints thanks to Danny Cipriani class
|Gloucester (21) 27|
|Tries: Hanson, Sharples Cons: Twelvetrees Pens: Twelvetrees 5|
|Northampton (11) 16|
|Tries: Francis, Lawes Pens: Biggar 2|
England fly-half Danny Cipriani showed his undoubted quality to help steer Gloucester to a 27-16 opening weekend win against Northampton at Kingsholm.
Cipriani delivered a sublime cut-out-ball to put Charlie Sharples in out wide, adding to James Hanson's rumble across the stripe.
Northampton matched the hosts for tries thanks to Piers Francis and Courtney Lawes, plus two Dan Biggar penalties.
In the end, Billy Twelvetrees' 17-point haul from the tee proved crucial.
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This battle of two new big-money fly-halves on either side - with former Ospreys Dan Biggar also making his debut - brought fine work from both players but Cipriani had the better overall on his Welsh rival.
The former Wasps and Sale stand-off has made plenty of headlines since arriving at Gloucester, although many of those have been unwanted column inches centring on his £2,000 fine by a Jersey court in pre-season.
However, his debut before the Shed faithful was purely positive, kicking with precision from hand and showing vision at the heart of Gloucester's rip-roaring start.
His clip to the corner presented the platform for a line-out and rolling maul that was finished by Hanson, while the crispness of the overall play led to a string of penalties in the first half that Twelvetrees punished with unerring accuracy.
In reply, Francis finished off an unstoppable drive and beautiful offload by Ahsee Tuala as Northampton put together some decent moves, just as they did after half-time when Lawes piled over amid a speedy rolling maul.
Points were at a premium otherwise after the freescoring first 40, and when they did come, Twelvetrees was on hand to stroke the ball through the sticks to ensure an opening weekend defeat for Northampton boss Chris Boyd, albeit one with plenty of promise.
Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann:
"Danny is backing himself in training, and it worked for him today. All the players have a licence 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."
Northampton head coach Chris Boyd:
"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.
On Dylan Hartley's return to duty:
"He has been chomping at the bit, so for him to get 40 minutes was good. He will be involved again on Friday (against Harlequins)."
Gloucester: Woodward; Sharples, Trinder, Twelvetrees, Banahan; Cipriani, Braley; Rapava Ruskin, Hanson, Balmain, Slater (capt), Galarza; Ackermann, Ludlow, Morgan
Replacements: Marais, Hohneck, Knight, Clarke, Polledri, Vellacott, Hudson, Williams
Northampton: Tuala; Tuitavake, Burrell, Francis, Collins; Biggar, Reinach; Waller (co-captain), Fish, Franks, Ribbans, Lawes, Haskell, Brüssow, Harrison
Replacements: Hartley (co-captain), van Wyk, Painter, Ratuniyarawa, Ludlam, Mitchell, Grayson, Pisi