Aviva Premiership: Northampton notch bonus point in heavy home win over Gloucester
Last Updated: 01/03/14 7:23pm
Northampton stretched their unbeaten run in the Aviva Premiership to 13 games with a resounding 39-13 victory over Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens.
Saints ran in five tries to claim the bonus point and climb back to the top of the table, having been replaced less than 24 hours earlier by Saracens following the capital club's win at Bath.
Ken Pisi, Calum Clark, Tom Stephenson, Alex Waller and Will Hooley all touched down for the hosts as they cut loose in the second half.
Henry Trinder's try and a conversion and two penalties for Freddie Burns had Gloucester level at 13-13 at one stage, but Gloucester were blown away by Northampton's powerful pack after the break.
They were gifted the chance to break the deadlock after just over a minute of action, team-mates Rob Cook and Martyn Thomas knocking on Burns' up-and-under on the halfway line.
The loose ball broke to Pisi, lurking in what would have been an offside position had a Saints hand been laid on the kick. Instead he was free to pick up the gift and gallop away to the line.
Still, Northampton were nothing but gracious hosts when they presented the chance for Gloucester to hit back. A promising home move came to a shuddering halt when Kahn Fotuali'i threw a wide pass straight to Trinder, who accepted the offering to race away and score against the run of play.
Myler and Burns exchanged penalties before the former gave Saints a 13-10 half-time advantage with a second successful kick, Gloucester having been punished for pulling down a well-constructed rolling maul.
Although Burns once again levelled the scores after 48 minutes with three more points, a slew of substitutions led to Northampton seizing control.
England international Ben Foden made his first appearance since November, but it was up front where the replacements made the biggest difference.
Gloucester were blasted off their own ball with a perfectly-timed counter drive and after two penalties, blindside flanker Clark raced off a maul for a try that put Saints ahead again - it was a lead they never came close to surrendering.
Stephenson, cutting a neat line off Myler, eased over himself and the extra point was secured when Waller powered his way through with around six minutes to play.
Not content there, Northampton crossed again in the closing stages through Hooley, though Myler proved unable to keep up his perfect record off the tee as the conversion attempt came back out off an upright.
Sat 16th May
Bath50 - 30Gloucester
Exeter44 - 16Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers22 - 14Northampton
London Irish40 - 40Wasps
London Welsh17 - 68Saracens
Newcastle Falcons37 - 21Harlequins
Sat 23rd May - Semi Final
Northampton0 - 0Saracens
Bath0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 16
Manu Tuilagi was delighted to return to action after a five-month absence in Leicester's 41-18 win at Newcastle.
Leicester came from behind to record a bonus point 41-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Newcastle.
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond was delighted with his side after their 21-17 Aviva Premiership victory at Wasps.