Stephen Myler kicks Northampton to victory against Gloucester
An impressively dominant scrum saw Northampton register their first Aviva Premiership win of the season at Franklin's Gardens as they defeated Gloucester 15-3 on Friday evening.
Last term's table-toppers had managed just one victory in their first four league games but, in wet and windy conditions, their scrum won three of the five penalties that Stephen Myler kicked. Gloucester only had a Billy Twelvetrees penalty in reply.
With a wet ball there were plenty of scrums and, after his man-of-the-match display at Glasgow last week, Kieran Brookes won a penalty at the first scrum in the ninth minute and, from 40 metres in front of the posts, Myler made it 3-0.
Six minutes later Myler collected three easy points from 10 metres.
An interception from Luther Burrell on his 10-metre line saw him kick ahead and pile on more pressure in the Gloucester 22. It brought a third scrum penalty in a row for Northampton, with Gloucester loosehead Paddy McAllister once again whistled for collapsing it by referee Greg Garner.
Myler made it 9-0 and 18 minutes before half-time it prompted the visitors to take off former Ulster prop McAllister and replace him with academy product Yann Thomas.
Twelvetrees, playing at fly-half once again with James Hook at 12, got Gloucester on the board two minutes later with a penalty from the left touchline.
The next scrum was in Northampton's 22, with Gloucester's put-in. Thomas kept his side up, but after a reset the home side won it against the head and cleared to huge cheers.
The Gloucester pack at least put in a fabulous lineout drive that saw Tom Wood not only bring it down but shown the yellow card on 31 minutes. Twelvetrees, 10 metres in from the left touchline, missed the penalty, though.
Despite being a man down, Northampton held out to lead 9-3 at half-time.
It did at least stop raining as the second half started, but the wind seemed stronger with Gloucester's kicks going backwards at times.
Northampton had a glorious chance for the first try when Myler charged down Twelvetrees, scooped up the loose ball but, with 30 metres of open field, Burrell could not hold on to the pass.
Jonny May then had a chance for Gloucester after Alex Waller spilled the ball in the visitors' 22. The winger was clear and seemingly heading for a length-of-the-field try, but, with Ben Foden coming across, May weakly kicked ahead and the Northampton full-back quickly smothered.
Burrell, hoping to impress new England boss Eddie Jones after missing out on the World Cup, limped off on the hour concerned with his left knee. He was replaced by JJ Hanrahan and South African World Cup winner Victor Matfield was also brought on for his first appearance for Northampton.
Myler added a fourth penalty three minutes later and, despite Gloucester now having a whole new front row, former Saint Paul Doran Jones was penalised at a scrum for the Northampton fly-half to make it 15-3.
Twelvetrees' grubber kick almost gave Gloucester a try but it hit the post and Lee Dickson scooped up the ball.
The game ended with Northampton's scrum powering Gloucester backwards, but this time Myler missed the penalty.