A penalty try seven minutes from time gave Northampton a narrow 13-12 win over Gloucester at Kingsholm Stadium on Sunday.
The Cherry and Whites played much the better rugby in the opening exchanges and were rewarded for their intent with a 9-0 half-time lead. All the points came from the boot of Billy Burns.
However, the influence of Teimana Harrison dragged Saints back into the match after the break. Stephen Myler's boot provided six points while Burns added another to keep Gloucester in the lead.
David Humphreys' side was put under severe pressure late on and they couldn't hold out. David Halaifonua's deliberate knock-on meant that the visitors were awarded a penalty try. Myler was on hand to clinch the win with a conversion under the posts in his 300th Saints appearance.
Gloucester dominated the ball in the opening stages and seized advantage with a penalty from Burns after 10 minutes. Burns doubled the hosts' lead after 31 minutes, the Saints pack was dominated by a Cherry and Whites scrum to concede a penalty. Burns was reliable in his execution to send his side into a six-point lead.
The final score of the half came from the boot of Burns in the 35th minute. Matthew Carley spotted a Northampton jersey entering a maul from the side and awarded a penalty to be dispatched once more by Burns to ensure Gloucester held a 9-0 lead at the interval.
Saints started the second-half very well and were rewarded early on with a penalty. Stephen Myler went for the posts and was successful with his attempt, cutting the deficit to six points. Myler cut the deficit even further 12 minutes later with another penalty.
However, Gloucester regained their six-point advantage in the 62nd minute, the penalty coming once again from the right boot of Burns to make the score 12-6. Northampton snatched victory late on in the 74th minute, a deliberate knock-on from Halaifonua led to Matthew Carley awarding a penalty try to Saints with help from the TMO.
Myler added the conversion from under the posts to make the final score 12-13 in dramatic fashion.
Pens: Burns 4
Try: Penalty Try
Pens: Myler 2
Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Andrew Symons, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 John Afoa, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Matt Scott, 23 Mat Protheroe
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles
Referee: Matt Carley
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Graham Hughes