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Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Sunday, 4 September 2011 17:32 UK

Northampton 26-24 Gloucester

Northampton (17) 26
Tries: Dowson, Roberts Conversions: Myler 2
Myler 3, Lamb

Gloucester (13) 24
Tries: May, Sharples Conversions: Taylor
Taylor 2, Burns Drop Goal: Burns

Northampton v Gloucester

Ryan Lamb struck a late penalty on his Northampton debut to beat his old club Gloucester in a breathlessly dramatic finale at Franklin's Gardens.

Freddie Burns looked to have completed a late comeback for Gloucester when he dropped a goal four minutes from time.

Gloucester had been 23-13 down with 20 minutes left, only to go in front after Charlie Sharples' try, in between a penalty and that drop goal from Burns.

But Lamb had the final word, keeping his nerve from 45 yards out.

It was a big moment for former Gloucester stand-off Lamb, making his debut off the bench, particularly as he had missed a kick minutes earlier with his side two points ahead, only to then watch in horror when Burns rifled Gloucester in front with a towering drop-goal.

But starting fly-half Stephen Myler was equally important in the Saints' victory, kicking three penalties and two conversions for a 13-point haul, as well as cleverly creating his team's opening try for captain Phil Dowson.

Northampton's other first-half try came from one of their other new boys Martin Roberts, who went in by the posts.

Centre Jonny May successfully charged down to run in Gloucester's first-half try, converted by fly-half Tim Taylor, before the Cherry and Whites stand-off added two penalties before the break.

Both sides were significantly depleted by international call-ups.

Northampton had five new signings making their debut in the clash which pitched together the two sides that finished third and fourth in last season's Premiership.

Wing Noah Cato, centre Tom May, scrum-half Roberts and lock Samu Manoa all took their bow for Saints, along with prop Paul Doran-Jones, who made his debut against the club he left four months ago.

Gloucester, led by stand-in captain Peter Buxton from the back row, had prop Dario Chistolini making his first appearance for the Cherry and Whites after his summer move from Italian side Petrarca.


Northampton coach Jim Mallinder:

"It was a straight swap. Myler played very well when he was on, kicked his goals and impressed. But Lamb is also a good player who brings something different to the table. You don't see many Ryan Lamb-style fly-halves in the Premiership. He's an instinctive footballer who can make things happen.

"He didn't get much chance to show his game, but he has had a really good pre-season and trained well in tandem with Stephen. We have a bigger squad this season and we plan to use them.

"Dowson was outstanding, his energy and leadership and that cracking try. And it's fantastic to see a local lad such as Ben Nutley out there, racking up the tackles, and Callum Clark in the thick of the action. And I was also impressed with Martin Roberts on his debut.

"It's not easy when you have six top internationals away on World Cup duty and five new faces making their debuts. That is why I'll take the win gladly while accepting we did make life difficult for ourselves late in the second half."

Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath:

"It looked as if Will James had conceded a penalty at the breakdown to give Lamb his penalty chance. But, from where I was sitting, a Northampton player came in from the side first and the penalty should have been to us.

"However, I was also frustrated that we were five per cent below our execution in the first half and that we were not switched on when Roberts took the tap for his try.

"But I am delighted by the fact we showed the character to come back after seeing Alex Brown forced off just two minutes after half-time then falling 10 points behind.

"Last season we won here by two points, this time we lose by two. Both were fine games of rugby between teams who want to play rugby."


Northampton: Tonks; Diggin, May, Downey, Cato; Myler, Roberts; Doran-Jones, Long, Mujati, Manoa, Sorenson, Clark, Nutley, Dowson.

Replacements: Haywood, A Waller, Mercey, Day, Craig, Commins, Lamb, Armstrong.

Gloucester: Morgan; Sharples, May, Vainikolo, Simpson-Daniel; Taylor, Lewis; Wood, Dawidiuk, Chistolini, James, Brown, Buxton, Hazell, Cox.

Replacements: Charles, Murphy, Harden, Savage, Evans, Runciman, Burns, Boyce.

Sin Bin: Buxton (50).

Attendance: 13,124.

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see also
Saints post record 13m turnover
26 Aug 11 |  Northampton
Saints' Powell forced to retire
15 Aug 11 |  Northampton
Sharples pens new Gloucester deal
14 Jul 11 |  Gloucester
Narraway given Gloucester armband
23 Aug 11 |  Gloucester

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