Gloucester fightback snuffed out by Northampton
Gloucester were denied a second straight comeback win as Northampton held on for a 19-13 victory at Franklin's Gardens.
The Cherry and Whites came back from 25-5 down to Saracens last week for a dramatic success, and looked set to do the same here when they got back to within a score with four minutes remaining, but in the end Saints were able to hang on.
Northampton were edging the game in the closing stages of the first half and Charlie Clare's score three minutes before the break put them in a commanding position.
Leading 13-3, they took advantage of Dan Thomas' sin-binning to add another penalty through Sam Olver, with the fly-half adding a drop goal just before the hour to make it a three-score game.
Gloucester hit back through Ollie Thorley and then Thomas' try four minutes from time got them back into bonus-point range.
However despite getting the ball back, they could not find a way over, and Saints held on for a second straight win in the competition.
It was Gloucester who had the first chance of the game, skipper Lewis Ludlow knocking on over the line after James Wilson had tried to do too much on his own line and lost the ball.
Still, they took the lead on nine minutes through a Billy Burns penalty, following a collapsed maul from the hosts.
Olver responded with two penalties in the space of five minutes to put Saints ahead before hooker Clare's intervention from a maul after a period of domination from the Northampton pack.
Burns could have cut the deficit just before half-time, but his long-range penalty fell just short.
Thomas was given a 10-minute break early in the second half as Gloucester paid the price for a succession of breakdown infringements.
Joe Latta was next to be pinged - the Kiwi earning plenty of jeers from the crowd - which allowed Olver to stretch the Saints lead, before he slotted a drop goal to seemingly make the game safe.
Gloucester had pulled off a great escape a week ago against Saracens, and needed to score quickly if they were to do likewise here.
They did come back into it somewhat when Thorley crossed for a fine individual try, powering through the final tackle after brilliantly claiming a high ball. Lloyd Evans missed the conversion.
There was still time for another Gloucester score, Thomas the fastest to a loose ball in the Saints in-goal.
Evans was again off-target with the conversion however, and Saints did enough to see out the game.