Controversial penalty try ends Saints' losing streak
PREMIERSHIP MATCH REPORT: A controversial penalty try at the death helped Northampton Saints end a seven-match losing streak.
The 22-19 win over Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens came at end of a dramatic finish to a match full of drama - which saw both teams awarded penalty tries.
However, the most dramatic and controversial of all referee Ian Tempest's calls - having seemingly made up his mind to card a player, despite television replays showing that the Gloucester'S Andy Symons was neither offside, nor did he deliberately slap the ball down.
However, Tempest ruled that whatever the transgression was, it was 'cynical' and he awarded the penalty try - despite admitting it did not warrant a yellow card.
It had been three months of misery for all at Franklin's Gardens but Alan Gaffney's arrival as interim head coach has finally halted their poor run.
The Saints had started the game with real bite and when Ken Pisi went over in the right corner as the hosts exploited an overlap, the omens were good.
But not for nothing are Gloucester impressing this season and first a rolling maul earned a penalty try before James Hanson went over from close range to turn the game on its head.
At half-time, the visitors were leading 14-8, a Harry Mallinder penalty trimming the lead for the hosts.
After the break, it was Gloucester who struck again for their third try, John Afoa going over after collecting a sumptuous Owen Williams offload.
But the Welshman missed the extras and a kickable penalty in the second half to keep Saints interested.
And when Nic Groom sniped his way over from close range after Pisi collected a re-start, Saints were back in it.
Mallinder's extras made it only 19-15 to the visitors, who last won at Franklin's Gardens back in 2013.
The final quarter was end to end, filled with turnovers and knock-ons as both sides chased victory.
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Pisi, Groom, Penalty try
Cons: Mallinder, a penalty try does not require a conversion
Tries: Penalty try, Hanson, Afoa
Cons: A penalty try does not require a conversion, Williams
Yellow card: Api Ratuniyarawa (Northampton Saints, 14)
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ken Pisi, 10 Harry Mallinder, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Campese Ma’afu
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 James Grayson, 23 Tom Stephenson
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Andy Symons, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Ed Slater, 3 John Afoa, 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Charlie Sharples
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace and Wayne Falla.
TMO: David Sainsbury.