Gloucester 26-24 Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership
Mallinder frustrated by last-gasp call
ESPN Staff
September 21, 2013
Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees slots a match-winning penalty, Gloucester v Northampton Saints, Kingsholm, Gloucester, September 21, 2013
Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees slots a match-winning penalty © PA Photos

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder refused to criticise referee Martin Fox following his decision to award Gloucester a controversial late penalty that robbed his side of victory at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Saints looked on course for their third straight victory of the season following wing Jamie Elliott's 79th-minute try and the subsequent conversion from fly-half Stephen Myler but there was still time for one more dramatic twist to an enthralling game.

Television replays showed four Gloucester players offside at the re-start and then Fox penalised Saints at the ensuing scrum although it looked as the ball came out of the set-piece before Ben Morgan illegally kicked it back in. Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees stepped up to slot the kick and set the seal on a 26-24 win.

"It is a shame when games are decided by the referee in the last couple of minutes," 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."

Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies was understandably delighted to see his side notch their first win of the season - a result he felt they deserved. "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."

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

Northampton's George North attracts the attention of Gloucester's Freddie Burns © Getty Images
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