Northampton leave it late before picking up welcome win against Gloucester
Northampton came from behind to grab a much-needed Aviva Premiership victory at Gloucester's Kingsholm thanks to a late penalty try plus two penalties and a conversion from fly-half Stephen Myler.
The match, which ended in a 13-12 win for the visitors, was devoid of a try until the late flurry of points - with Gloucester fly-half Billy Burns landing four penalties.
It was a tough last few weeks of 2016 for Northampton after two defeats in their last three Premiership matches and two losses to Irish giants Leinster in the European Challenge Cup.
And, despite having British Lions wing George North back in the team after a month out due to a head injury suffered against Leicester, the Saints looked devoid of confidence on occasions.
Northampton were their own worst enemies with some poor handling around the half-back area meaning dropped passes or interceptions.
Gloucester, in front of a sell-out 16,115 crowd, were 9-0 up at the break due to three Burns penalties as the Cherry and Whites looked to avenge a 23-20 defeat at Franklin's Gardens on October 28.
The home side put Saints under pressure on their own try-line but Northampton were able to stem the danger.
Burns put Gloucester ahead with a 35-metre kick, but Northampton's shaky game was typified when Myler, normally deadly in front of the posts, missed a straightforward penalty from 26 metres on 22 minutes.
The Saints drove to Gloucester's line but another error gave the home side a penalty to clear their lines.
Burns and former England centre Billy Twelvetrees kept up the pressure on Saints with dangerous corner kicks - and Northampton finally succumbed when conceding a second penalty for Burns to boot.
When the visitors were caught offside four minutes before the interval, the Cherry and Whites fly-half made it a hat-trick from 27 metres.
Myler got Northampton on the board with an unmissable penalty in front of the posts as the second half resumed - but Gloucester almost grabbed a try when former England number eight Ben Morgan drove over only, to be stopped by Saints duo Ben Foden and Christian Day.
Northampton finally picked up the pace just before the hour mark, with replacement Harry Mallinder producing a dangerous grubber kick to the home line which had to be defended well.
And just before the hour, Gloucester were offside, again in front of their posts. Myler's kick was simple and Saints were back within a score of levelling.
However, Gloucester restored a six-point lead when Northampton were penalised on the right and Burns' 30m goal just crept in past the upright.
However, the home faithful roared their disapproval when Northampton were awarded a penalty try with four minutes to go when wing David Halifonua deliberately knocked the ball on when Saints were within striking distance.
It earned the wing a yellow card and, with Myler converting, the visitors went ahead by a point.
They held on to gain a sixth win of the season and push back towards the right end of the table.