Northampton returned to the Premiership summit after bouncing back from last week’s loss with a 33-26 victory over Gloucester on Saturday.

With Exeter playing against Saracens on Sunday, the Saints grabbed their chance to get back on top as hooker Mike Haywood and scrum-half Cobus Reinach (2) crossed, while Piers Francis and Dan Biggar kicked eight and ten points respectively, in an entertaining match at the Gardens.

Louis Rees-Zammit scored a hat-trick for Gloucester but they had to be content with two bonus points in their defeat.

Rees-Zammit threatened to set up a stunning late fightback, but Northampton held their nerve and Francis’ late penalty put the seal on the home success.

Northampton bounced back from an early Rees-Zammit score and went in 13-7 up at half-time thanks to Haywood’s try and eight points from the boot of Biggar.

Biggar went off injured at the break but his side took control as man of the match Reinach registered a double.

Gloucester refused to go quietly and two more tries from Rees-Zammit as well as one from Chris Harris kept them alive.

However, Northampton saw the game out late on to ensure their unbeaten Premiership home record remained intact.

Gloucester had been first to strike as Mark Atkinson, who scored a hat-trick at the same ground back in April, put in a grubber kick and wing Rees-Zammit scored.

Danny Cipriani converted to make it 7-0 and the fly-half then made a try-saving tackle on Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Gloucester lost winger Charlie Sharples to injury and they conceded their first points when Northampton won a penalty, which Biggar kicked.

Planet Rugby

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