Kingsholm   27 Dec.2000
 
Gloucester give Saints a Christmas present
 
 
Gloucester 12 Northampton 15
 
IF, that little word with such a big meaning.
If only Gloucester had taken their ample chances they would have won this match with something to spare. Gloucester did not so much lose this game but threw it away.
A gift wrapped seasonal offering to Northampton, who could scarcely have expected such charity even at the festive time of year.
Simon Mannix surprisingly missed an easy first penalty attempt with a dreadful kick and then proceeded to miss three more, each of them from straight forward positions close to the posts.
Tom Beim Gloucester’s leading try scorer also got in on the act when he twice spilled the ball with a clear run in to the line.
That the Cherry and White’s two leading scorers should both miss crucial chances is incredible but surely such basic errors are inexcusable at top level rugby.
It is all very well having the benefit of the majority of good possession and position but the continued inability to turn good ball into points must be a big worry for the coaching staff.
Concern must also be expressed with regard to poor handling by the backs. It may have been the freezing conditions but all too often was laboured or inaccurate, with the ball being knocked on or even dropped at key moments.
Once again the Gloucester eight were a match for Northampton up front but turning that superiority into points was beyond them until almost half-time. By then Saints full back Paul Grayson had shown the home side how to kick goals from the few Northampton sorties into Gloucester territory and had twelve points to his credit. During the same period Gloucester had the more chances but scored no points. However just before the break.
Terry Fanolua seized upon a pass from Ollie Azam and made the most of the overlap to score a try which he converted. So instead of having a comfortable lead, Gloucester were still playing catch up at 7—12 but we were at least back in contention.
After the interval the home side continued to have the edge and bombarded the Saint’s line before Mannix squeezed over for a try which levelled the score.
Saints did establish themselves in the Gloucester half for a time, just long enough for Paul Grayson to nudge the visitors back into the lead with his fifth successful kick, This was enough to give Northampton victory and their second win over Gloucester in the space of a couple of weeks.
A third Premiership defeat at Kingsholm this season and another case of a game that Gloucester should have won.
Even allowing for injuries, as a team Gloucester have not played well for a complete match all season.
We cannot blame the referee all the time.
Last season very few chances were wasted– that is now destined to the history books. This season it is a different story—too many mistakes and too many chances missed.
Four matches have now been lost by a margin of three points or less!
This could be crucial at the end of the season.