Premiership: Gloucester 12-13 Northampton Saints

Gloucester v Northampton
George North (centre) played the entire 80 minutes at Kingsholm
Aviva Premiership
Gloucester (9) 12
Pen: Burns 4
Northampton (0) 13
Try: Penalty Con: Myler Pen: Myler 2

George North made a successful return to rugby union by helping Northampton Saints fight back to win 13-12 at Gloucester in the Premiership.

The Wales wing was playing for the first time since suffering a head injury against Leicester on 3 December and enjoyed an incident-free return.

Four Billy Burns penalties and two from Stephen Myler saw Gloucester lead 12-6 with seven minutes left.

But David Halaifonua conceded a penalty try which Myler converted to win it.

The Gloucester wing was ruled by the Television Match Official to have deliberately knocked on near his own line to concede the score and was sent to the sin-bin as the hosts finished with 14 men.

Victory lifted Northampton up to sixth in the table but for much of the game it appeared that it would be the Cherry and Whites, who remain ninth, who would come out on top in front of a sell-out 16,115 crowd.

They dominated the first half in terms of territory and deservedly led 9-0 with three Burns penalties.

Myler cut the deficit to three points with two penalties of his own, before Burns' fourth successful kick extended the hosts' lead.

But, after Saints went for the corner after turning down a shot at goal to reduce the arrears, they were rewarded for their pressure when Halifonua was penalised and Myler knocked over the conversion from in front of the posts.

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys: "The dressing room is devastated. To turn around after five days and a really huge game at Twickenham and lose by a point is hard to take.

"You knew that last 10 minutes would be tough. We defended magnificently for parts of that match. When your opportunities come along, you have to take them."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder: "I am very pleased. It was a bit of a dogfight out there and not a pretty game. It was a good competitive game. We were disappointed to go nine points down.

"We have said the matches around the New Year are three tough games and Bristol next week will be on a high as they have just one so that will be tricky. We have got to target that game."

Gloucester: Hook; Halaifonua, Symons, Twelvetrees, May; Burns, Heinz (capt); Hohneck, Hibbard, Ma'afu, Savage, Thrush, Ludlow, Kvesic, Morgan.

Replacements: Matu'u, McAllister, Afoa, Galarza, Moriarty, Laidlaw, Protheroe, Scott.

Sin-bin: Halaifonua (73)

Northampton: Foden; K Pisi, Burrell, Hanrahan, North; Myler, Groom; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes, Lawes, Day, Wood (capt), Harrison, Picamoles.

Replacements: Clare, E Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson, Kessell, Mallinder, Estelles.

Ref: Mat Carley (RFU)

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