Saints survive at Kingsholm
Pisi gets two tries before visitors have to hang on at the death
Last Updated: 01/09/12 5:44pm
George Pisi: squeezes over in the corner for one of his two tries
Northampton held their nerve in a thrilling finish at Kingsholm to record a 24-19 triumph over Gloucester on the opening day of the new season.
George Pisi crossed twice and Dylan Harley also touched down as Saints, who finished a pulsating contest with only 13 men, outscored their hosts by three tries to one.
A penalty try provided Gloucester's solitary effort and despite four penalties and a conversion from Freddie Burns, it wasn't enough for the home side.
They couldn't quite find a way through in the closing stages despite Northampton having Gerrit-Jan van Velze and Paul Doran-Jones sin-binned.
Any thoughts of the two teams easing into the new campaign were dismissed during a lively opening, with Northampton breaking the deadlock after 17 minutes.
They found a way through to the line when Dylan Hartley put centre Pisi away on the left, allowing him to cut inside and score.
Hartley turned from provider to scorer when he accepted a pass from the base of a ruck to dive in at the corner, with Ryan Lamb booting his second conversion to open up a 14-point lead.
Gloucester finally got on the board when Burns landed a 30-metre penalty but the Cherry and Whites needed to get a spark from somewhere to get them going.
A second Burns penalty shortly before the break reduced the arrears, only for Lamb to reply with three points and restore Northampton's 11-point advantage at half-time.
Gloucester hit back with two Burns penalties but, just as they seemed to be getting on top, Saints hit them with a killer blow by scoring a third try.
Pisi went over again on 50 minutes after a move across the backs to the right where prop Soane Tonga'uiha gave him the scoring pass.
Burns had the home fans on their feet when he intercepted a loose pass in his own 22 and raced upfield but did not have the support, with replacement Huia Edmonds then unable to ground the No.10's chip over the top.
Gloucester needed two tries and a conversion to draw and had a chance for one of them when van Velze and then prop Doran-Jones were yellow carded.
It left the Saints pack seriously depleted and they eventually folded under pressure, giving away a penalty try for collapsing a scrum.
The home team seemed certain to score again only to let Northampton off the hook - full-back Jonny May dropped the ball with the line in front of him while Henry Trinder wasted Gloucester's last chance when he knocked on.