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Mallinder lets his frustration show

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder struggled to mask a deep sense of frustration after his team suffered an agonising and controversial Aviva Premiership defeat against Gloucester.

Gloucester's England centre Billy Twelvetrees booted a penalty with the game's final kick to thwart Saints 26-24 at Kingsholm.

Northampton looked to have done enough when Stephen Myler converted wing Jamie Elliott's 79th-minute try for a one-point lead, but referee Martin Fox was then at the the centre of a dramatic finale.

Television replays showed that four Gloucester players were offside from the restart following Elliott's try, then Fox penalised Saints at an ensuing reset scrum when it looked as though Northampton should have had a penalty for home number eight Ben Morgan illegally kicking possession back into a scrum.

Leicestershire-based official Fox was only appointed to the game late this week after original match official Greg Garner pulled out with a hamstring injury.

"It is a shame when games are decided by the referee in the last couple of minutes," Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder said.

"We were disappointed when we had the change of referee at short notice, but sometimes that happens. What we have got to make sure of is that we control what we can control. The refs are out of our hands.

"We've got to make sure that parts of our game we are more accurate with. You have got to try to put the referee out of the equation.

"My reading of the scrum at the end, particularly the second scrum, was that we had control of the ball, so the reset should have been our put-in. I don't want to say any more, really.

"I have taken my frustration out - I kicked whatever was at the side of the pitch. We came close, we will win some and we will lose some.

"Clearly, the penalty count didn't go in our favour."

Unsurprisingly, Gloucester rugby director Nigel Davies had a different view of events after his team claimed their first Premiership win this season following losses to Sale and Saracens.

"Sometimes you get the rub of the green, sometimes you don't," he said.

"More importantly, from my perspective, I felt that overall we deserved to win with the performance we put in."

Twelvetrees and his fellow England back Charlie Sharples both scored tries for the home side, but it was a second-half touchdown from Gloucester academy player Elliott Stooke that appeared to have initially edged Gloucester home.

England Under-20 lock Stooke pounced 14 minutes from time, while fly-half Freddie Burns chipped in with two penalties and a conversion to put Gloucester six points in front.

Northampton took an early lead through full-back Ben Foden's try, and there was a second-half score for lock Samu Manoa, with Myler adding seven points from the boot.

But after conceding 66 points in losing to Sale and Saracens - and seeing their England Saxons prop Nick Wood hit with an eight-week ban following his red card for stamping at Allianz Park - Gloucester showed tremendous character.

"What is important is that we got the win. It was a very exciting game with a very dramatic ending to a fabulous match," Davies added.

"Sport is about momentum, and we didn't really have any before today.

"We were hugely disappointed with our performance against Sale, and against Saracens it was very difficult to judge us because we were playing with 14 men, but today was a huge stride forward.

"Billy will know he had a mixed bag today, but ultimately he came through strong. He had the confidence in himself to nail an absolutely crucial kick for us to get our season under way."

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