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Franklins Gardens                         Zurich Premiership                              Saturday 13 April 2002
Northampton 58 Gloucester 21

THAT was the week that was. The week that Gloucester suffered two bouts of severe travel sickness.
    In the space of just four days the Cherry and Whites suffered two record defeats at the hands of firstly Wasps in London and then Saints in Northampton.
    The gory details make very poor reading for Gloucester supporters. 2 matches - 2 defeats, 102 points and 13 tries conceded, plus 1 red card and 3 yellow cards!
    It was just like the Gloucester of old - the bad old days of yesteryear. Dismal defence, with only scraps of possession and backed up by a lack of pace and enterprise behind the scrum.
    Quite how a team, which previously was able to boast one of the surest defences in the Premiership, can deteriorate into such a feeble featherweight outfit beggars belief and is cause for real concern.
    So too is Gloucesterís lack of coordinated commitment and concentration which led to such slipshod defence and once again poor discipline, neither of which were up to Premiership standard. More like a part time pub side on a bad day.
    Too many first up tackles were missed and behind the scrum the only three quarter to emerge with any credit was James Simpson Daniel who tackled manfully against the odds.

    Gloucesterís discipline again let them down badly against the Saints. Two cards for the third match in a row makes it doubly difficult when the side is up against opponents on top form.
    Ollie Azam was the first to get his marching orders for a silly innocuous off the ball incident but his reputation has now gone before him and whilst the yellow card may have seemed harsh he is very much a marked man in refereeís eyes. Patrice Collazo also followed for a deliberate professional foul.
    The sum total of being a man short for 20 minutes is too big a burden to carry at the best of times let alone for a Gloucester team out of touch and off the pace.
    When Wayne Smith arrived as coach at Northampton, Saints were just off the bottom of the Premiership table and have since lost only two matches, Leicester and Sale. The honeymoon period goes on as Northampton outplayed the visitors in every phase of the game. They moved the ball wide and ran the ball at every opportunity and Nick Beal & co. had a field day with the virtual freedom of the park.
    Gloucesterís line out didnít function as it has done all season as Saintís French international Olivier Brouzet ruled virtually unchallenged.
    Not surprisingly with so many disruptive changes in personnel and being a man short for long periods the Gloucester scrum also struggled.
    Thanks to three tries Saints were comfortably ahead 23-9 at the interval and although replacement Koli Sewabu shone and scored a good try for Gloucester which narrowed the gap to seven points at 23-16, that was as close as it got.
    The home side added five more tries in the second half as the Saints opened up an unassailable gap.
    Junior Paramore added a consolation try but the final stages saw increased Saintís pressure before they topped the half century mark.
    The rearranged London trip to Wasps on a mid week date certainly did Gloucester no favours and two hard away games within four days is far from an ideal situation but the fact remains that yet again the Cherry and Whites have repeatedly underperformed away from Kingsholm. Just two Premiership wins this season, at Sale and Harlequins.
    It has been unfortunate that the recent matches with Wasps and Saints have put Gloucester up against the two most improved form clubs in the Premiership but the sad truth is that Gloucester have not been competitive in either game.
    Perhaps itís the modern, much improved facilities of the impressive new style Franklins Gardens that Gloucester couldnít come to terms with let alone the Saintís players. No doubt about it, Northampton now have a better ground and a better team.


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