9:37am Tuesday 4th March 2014
GLOUCESTER director of rugby Nigel Davies admitted he could have no complaints as Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton Saints flexed their muscle on Saturday.
After going behind to Ken Pisi's first-minute try, Gloucester found themselves on level terms when Henry Trinder intercepted Kahn Fotuali'i's pass to race away and score.
Freddie Burns converted the try and knocked over two penalties, but Gloucester failed to add to their total in the final half hour as the Saints grew stronger.
While the sides were level pegging at 13-13 early in the second half, the home side turned on the power to pull away scoring five tries through Ken Pisi, Calum Clark, Tom Stephenson, Alex Waller and Will Hooley, while Stephen Myler finished the day with a 14-point haul.
And it was the introduction of Waller and Tom Mercey who made the difference, overpowering a Gloucester side who were unable to bounce back from the sudden surge at the set-piece.
"Their bench did impact the game, but I just felt we didn't impose ourselves on any aspect of the game today, I'm really disappointed," Davies said.
"We were inaccurate, we gave away sloppy penalties, and you can't afford to do that against a team of this quality.
"They really hurt us in the set-piece. We were in the fight in the first-half but I was still disappointed with us, I think both sides made a lot of mistakes and it was a poor-quality half.
"We were dropping off too many tackles, but unfortunately we were even worse in the second half. Do that against a side of Northampton's quality, and you'll get hurt.
"We had the ball around the halfway area, we were sloppy, and we ended up with that scrum in our own 22. We couldn't afford to do that here."
Meanwhile, Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes his squad are reaping the benefits of an experienced core of players dismantling Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens.
"The scrum went well, we got more dominant as the game progressed," said Mallinder. "Also the backs we had some young lads there in Tom Stephenson, Will Hooley, coming off the bench, and we're really, really pleased.
"We've not got a massive squad of players, but it's all about experience. Maybe in previous years, some of these players haven't had enough experience.
"You need an experienced core of players to bring these younger players on and we're in the fortunate position that we've got that.
"The Wallers are a good example. Alex has spent a lot of time on the bench, but he's taken his opportunity this season and he's had an outstanding time.
"We thought this was the chance to give Ethan a go and that was really good to see him play 60 minutes in his first start in the Premiership, with Alex coming on to finish the job.
"It was really good to see Ben Foden back and he looked very sharp. It's great news for us. Hopefully he can have a big impact for the rest of the season."
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