Understrength Gloucester Rugby embarrassed away at rampant Northampton Saints

George Skivington may be keeping his powder dry for Gloucester's Challenge Cup final to come, but 90-0 thrashings like his side received away at a full-strength Northampton Saints are good for no one, nor the Gallagher Premiership.

Leaders Northampton secured a home semi-final in the Premiership with an annihilation of the Cherry and Whites to record their record win in the competition. Winger Ollie Sleightholme scored a hat-trick as the Saints ran in 14 tries in total against a Cherry and Whites side showing 12 changes to their European Challenge Cup semi-final win against Benetton last week.

Their lack of cohesion was ruthlessly exploited by the hosts, whose scoreline is only topped in Premiership history by the 106-12 victory Richmond racked up against Bedford in 1999.

An early indication this game was going to go to form came when George Hendy flew though a wide gap in Gloucester’s defences and he timed his ball outside to send George Furbank clear with 48 seconds played. It was not too long until the Saints were over again when Fraser Dingwall was able to weave his way through after being found in plenty of space by Alex Mitchell.

The one-way traffic continued as the hosts scored their third try in the 21st minute when Fin Smith’s superb floated pass out to the left, following a quickly taken penalty, gave Sleightholme a comfortable finish.

Northampton looked to have bagged the bonus point when Angus Scott-Young went over after a Mitchell pass went to ground, but the TMO found the Australian had knocked on before picking up the ball. But they were not to be denied for long as hooker Curtis Langdon barged his way over from a few metres out after a tapped penalty leaked by Gloucester’s creaking scrum.

Langdon then scored his second when he again proved unstoppable close to the line before Dingwall and Furbank combined to send Mitchell under the posts, with Smith’s fifth conversion taking the score to 40-0 at the break. Northampton’s first score of the second half was a popular one among the home support as loosehead Alex Waller, who is retiring at the end of the season, got in on the act.

Sam Matavesi was brought on for Langdon and the Fiji international’s first act was to get the ball down off the back of a driving maul, which brought up the half-century for the Saints. Another replacement got on the scoresheet as Emmanuel Iyogun went over from Tommy Freeman’s off-load, with Gloucester’s Jake Morris being sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on in the build-up.

Sleightholme then sprinted clear down the right to score his second before Alex Moon barged over to ensure this would be a record-breaking day for the hosts. And they were still not finished, with Sleightholme completing his hat-trick in the 65th minute before another breakaway and a driving maul, respectively, led to Tom James and Matavesi completing the rout.

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 George Hendy, 13 Tommy Freeman, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell; 1 Alex Waller, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Alex Moon, 5 Alex Coles, 6 Courtney Lawes (c), 7 Angus Scott-Young, 8 Juarno Augustus

Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Sam Graham, 21 Tom James, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tom Seabrook

Gloucester Rugby: 15. Josh Hathaway, 14. Alex Hearle, 13. Louis Hillman-Cooper, 12. Jack Reeves, 11. Jake Morris, 10. Charlie Atkinson, 9. Stephen Varney, 1. Harry Elrington, 2. Santi Socino, 3. Ciaran Knight, 4. Arthur Clark, 5. Freddie Thomas, 6. Albert Tuisue, 7. Lewis Ludlow ©, 8. Jack Clement

Replacements: 16. Sam Scarfe, 17. Mayco Vivas, 18. Fraser Balmain, 19. Danny Eite, 20. Rob Nixon, 21. Charlie Chapman, 22. Morgan Adderly-Jones, 23. Ioan Jones

Referee: Ian Tempest

Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Dan Jones

TMO: Rowan Kitt