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Adam Hastings misses late penalty as Gloucester defeated by Northampton

By PA
GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 23: Adam Hastings of Gloucester looks anxious as he misses with the last minute penalty, which would have have won the match for Gloucester during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints at Kingsholm Stadium on December 23, 2023 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Adam Hastings missed a 45-metre angled penalty with the last kick of the match as Gloucester suffered a 31-29 Gallagher Premiership defeat to Northampton before a crowd of over 15,000 at Kingsholm.

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Hastings’ failure took Gloucester’s losing run in the league to seven games but it was rough justice on them for they had dominated a one-sided second half.

When the hosts trailed 24-7 after 35 minutes, another loss looked a near certainty but a yellow card for Saints centre Rory Hutchinson saw an instant change in momentum as Gloucester scored 22 unanswered points.

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Freddie Clarke, Chris Harris, Matias Alemanno and Santiago Carreras scored their tries with Adam Hastings adding three conversions and a penalty.

Curtis Langdon scored two tries for Northampton, with Alex Mitchell, Alex Coles and Tom Litchfield also on the try-scoring sheet as Fin Smith added three conversions.

Northampton’s early pressure was rewarded with a fourth-minute try from Mitchell. Saints turned down a kickable penalty in favour of more attacking options and it proved the correct call when the scrum-half’ s outstretched hand proved just enough to secure the touchdown.

Saints continued their explosive start to score a second try within three minutes when Coles crashed over as Gloucester struggled to cope with their opponents’ power.

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Aided by a number of penalty awards in their favour, the home side gained a foothold in the match but thrice in quick succession, their famed driving line-out was thwarted by solid defence from Saints.

The visitors soon illustrated how to capitalise from a close-range line-out. Skilful interplay from centres Hutchinson and Fraser Dingwall took them into the home 22 to establish a position from where Langdon powered over.

Gloucester desperately needed a response and they got one when they changed their tactics from a line-out. This time they ignored their customary drive to spin the ball wide and confuse the Northampton defence for Clarke to take advantage and score.

The hosts controlled the second quarter but their opponents broke out to score their bonus-point try. Excellent handling helped George Furbank and Tommy Freeman to make ground down the left and when the ball was recycled, Langdon powered past two defenders to score his second try.

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As half-time approached, Hutchinson was sin-binned for a high tackle on Ollie Thorley for Gloucester to capitalise immediately with a try from Harris to leave them trailing 24-14 at the interval.

With Hutchinson still absent, Gloucester bombarded the visitors’ line and were able to reduce the arrears when Alemanno forced his way over.

Hutchinson returned but he could not shift the momentum back his side’s way as Gloucester took the lead for the first time when Carreras finished a flowing move for the bonus-point try.

Hastings converted and added a penalty to leave the hosts with a five-point lead going into the final quarter.

Out of the blue, Northampton regained the lead when they broke out of defence for Mitchell to send Litchfield racing into the corner, with Smith knocking over the match-winning conversion from the touchline.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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