Replacement scrum-half Tom Kessell gives Northampton victory over Gloucester
Scrum-half Tom Kessell came off the bench to rescue victory for Northampton as they registered only their second home Aviva Premiership win of the season.
Two struggling sides produced a mistake-ridden encounter but an exciting finish, with Kessell's try with 10 minutes to go following a Louis Picamoles offload proving decisive in a 23-20 home victory.
A Picamoles converted try and Stephen Myler penalty had given Northampton a 13-3 half-time lead - but tries from Jacob Rowan and Charlie Sharples plus seven points from Greig Laidlaw had put Gloucester 20-16 ahead with 21 minutes to go.
It would have been a rare win at Franklin's Gardens for the visitors but Northampton roused themselves to snatch victory, although the performance again raised more questions than answers after a poor start to the campaign.
Northampton were slipshod from the off, losing their first two lineouts, and from the second Gloucester kicked ahead for Matt Scott to trap Ben Foden over the ball - but Laidlaw missed his kick.
George North thought he had opened the scoring on 14 minutes, bursting though on the 10-metre line - but referee Tom Foley ruled Harry Mallinder's inside pass to the Welshman was forward.
From the restart Scott again won a penalty by getting over Foden, but Laidlaw missed again.
Both sides were making mistakes and a dropped ball by James Hook was punished. From the scrum Foden broke on the short side and Picamoles picked up to drive for the line. He was stopped just short but the weight of the support behind pushed him over, Foley ruled after watching the big screen replays.
Myler converted to give the home side a 7-0 lead in the 27th minute and two minutes later he added a penalty. Laidlaw finally converted a penalty at the third attempt, but a collapsed scrum saw Myler restore the 10-point lead at the break.
A missed lineout on the Gloucester 22 saw Northampton lose possession and when Foden missed Laidlaw's high kick the visitors pounced.
Billy Twelvetrees picked up the bouncing ball and it was moved sharply to the right wing where flanker Rowan powered through a tackle to score in the corner. Laidlaw converted to give the visitors a much-needed boost and make it 13-10.
Myler responded with a third penalty, but from the restart Gloucester caught Lee Dickson dawdling at a ruck to force a scrum. From it, the visitors won a penalty which Laidlaw converted.
Just before the visitors were ahead, through Sharples. His opposite wing Jonny May made the break in midfield and some great hands from Ben Morgan opened up the right flank for Sharples to slip George North's tackle and score. Laidlaw converted to stretch the lead to four points.
Northampton almost created an instant response, as Foden burst through and sent Rory Hutchinson sidewinding towards the line, only to be hauled down by Richard Hibbard five metres short.
With 10 minutes to go, though, Picamoles peeled off a lineout drive and offloaded for replacement Kessell to touch down. Myler made it 23-20.
Hook was short with a penalty from the halfway line - but when Picamoles dropped the ball with a minute to go Gloucester had another chance.
They got to within 10 metres of the line - but Kessell was there to get over the ball and win a penalty to end the game.