Grob­ler’s late TMO try drama seals it for Glouces­ter

The Rugby Paper - - Premiership Rugby Cup - By ROGER PANTING

GERAINT Grob­ler sneaked over in the last minute to save Glouces­ter’s blushes as Saints looked set to re­main un­beaten in the com­pe­ti­tion with a third straight vic­tory.

As Glouces­ter pum­melled the visi­tors’ line in the dy­ing mo­ments, the ref­eree sig­nalled a penalty – but was alerted by his as­sis­tant that the TMO had spot­ted Grob­ler ap­pear­ing to score in the pre­vi­ous pas­sage of play.

The re­plays proved this to be cor­rect and Billy Twel­ve­trees’ con­ver­sion brought Glouces­ter to within one point of their op­po­nents in the Pool 3 ta­ble with one game re­main­ing.

Glouces­ter’s de­fence coach, Jonny Bell, said: “We are re­lieved to get the win so we can go down to our fi­nal game at Bath with some­thing to play for but it was a very scrappy per­for­mance.”

Glouces­ter con­trib­uted to their sloppy per­for­mance by se­lect­ing cen­tre Mark Atkin­son at fly-half whereas Twel­ve­trees would have been the more ob­vi­ous choice.

Atkin­son was poor, tak­ing a host of wrong op­tions, so that the whole­hearted ef­forts of his for­wards went largely un­re­warded.

Gareth Evans and James Han­son were the pick of the home eight with Ruan Ack­er­mann adding grunt as a sec­ond half re­place­ment but an out-of-sorts Willi Heinz and Atkin­son couldn’t pro­vide the ac­cu­racy to get dan­ger­ous wings, Matt Bana­han and Ol­lie Thor­ley, more in­volved.

Hence Saints were al­lowed to re­main in con­tention longer than they had any right to, es­pe­cially when they lost two ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers with in­jury, had a player sin-binned and were forced to en­dure a mal­func­tion­ing line-out.

David Rib­bans just about man­aged to keep it afloat and there were heroic de­fen­sive ef­forts from Tom Wood and Lewis Lud­lam, with Cobus Reinach a bun­dle of tricks at scrumhalf.

Young­sters George Fur­bank and Fraser Ding­wall also im­pressed but James Grayson was er­ratic and ul­ti­mately his two missed kicks cost his side the match.

Saints took an early lead when Piers Fran­cis and Fur­bank com­bined clev­erly in a 30-me­tre move for Fran­cis to score.

Grayson missed the con­ver­sion and a sub­se­quent penalty but the visi­tors con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate be­fore a suc­ces­sion of set­backs gave Glouces­ter a foothold into the game.

First Fran­cis de­parted with a head wound be­fore Bana­han in­ter­cepted a pass from Grayson to can­ter in from 30 me­tres.

On his 200th ap­pear­ance for Saints, hooker Mikey Hay­wood be­came their sec­ond ca­su­alty with a leg in­jury to com­plete a mis­er­able cel­e­bra­tion as his side had al­ready lost three li­ne­outs prior to his de­par­ture.

Prop Paul Hill fol­lowed him off the field, sin-binned for im­ped­ing Heinz as the scrum-half took a quick penalty but Glouces­ter couldn’t cap­i­talise.

Northamp­ton re­gained the lead when Reinach fielded a Heinz box-kick be­fore skil­fully cre­at­ing space for Tom Collins, whose kick ahead was col­lected by Reinach to score.

From then on it was all Glouces­ter but they huffed and puffed to no avail, un­til Grob­ler’s late ef­fort.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

In­ter­cep­tion: Matt Bana­han breaks clear to score Glouces­ter’s first try

Live-wire: Cobus Reinach goes over for Saints’ sec­ond try

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