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Irish eyes were smiling but it was hard cheese for Gloucester !

What an action packed couple of weeks it has been!

A trip to Dublin, a singing workshop in Newcastle, the visit of Gloucester Rugby and a dress to make for the end of season dinner. And I thought I would have loads of spare time in retirement.

First up the Dublin trip – travelling in hope more than expectation. Twelve of us were sitting together at Croke Park, some had come for just the day others of us were risking our bank balances and livers with an overnight stay. Our lineup featured on the tele quite lot, I think the GB and G stood out well in an ocean of blue.

The match itself started as a nervy affair and it was logistically difficult for me to implement my strategic going to the loo policy as you would think seat 1 and 2 would be at the end of a row – not in the middle.

Anyway, Ireland, unusually playing in blue, made a proper nuisance of themselves to disrupt our game and also to score 20 points to Saints lowly 3. James Lowe the hat trick scorer for the blue Irish has one of the more unusual Irish accents that I have heard and an exceptionally silly hair cut but he is a quality player and made the most of his opportunities.

But Saints settled in the second half and little by little began to gain territory. A bit of magic came when a little chip ahead and race for the loose ball was won by George Hendy , who seems to like scoring against Irish teams. Fin Smith was bang on target from out wide.

Then some athletic hurdling by Eliot Millar Mills tied in some of the Leinster forwards and gave space for Tom James to whip the ball out to Fraser Dingwall who knew Tom Seabrook would need no second invitation to get on the end of a long pass to fly over in the corner. Smith converted again and suddenly  Leinster could feel Saints hot breath on their necks.

There were some very nervous Leinster supporters in Croke Park but their side held out with the help of some unusual reffing decisions to maintain their grasp on victory.

Our young lads were in tears after the final whistle, but we as travelling supporters were so proud of them and the way they faced up to  team with 13 International players. There is still so much more to come from this group of pals.

Onwards to the home fixture against Gloucester. Saints needed five points to secure a home semi. There was some nervousness amongst the home support, would Gloucester suddenly find their cup form and deny us the points or would they have one eye on their European game in two weeks so be a bit loose and unfocussed?

In the end it was the latter as George Skivington chose to field a less than first XV side. Although not quite the Academy side some in the media would have us believe, they were certainly not as experienced as our chaps.

Mitch himself had promised me that there would be reaction to the Quins and Leinster games and he was not wrong.

Saints scored their first try on 49 seconds, and I’m not sure that it was a case of the floodgates opening but more that Gloucester never got them closed before the deluge.

Furbank got the first try then Fraser Dingwall and Ollie Sleightholme cantered over for tries with hooker Curtis Langdon touching down for two. Alex Mitchell did Mitch things for the sixth try before half time. 40-0 up at half time – would this Saints side go to sleep and let Gloucester back in after the break?

A definite “no” to that fear as the departing Alex’s Waller and Moon signed off their Saints’ careers (in the regular season) with a try apiece. New Dad Ollie Sleightholme notched up two more for a hat-trick and after Curtis was subbed before he could get a third.  Replacement hooker Sam Matavesi did his bit for the score with a try – he could have waited for Curtis to be clear of the pitch before he scored but he got over the line with his first touch of the ball.

Young  Emmanuel Iyogun, earning his fiftieth cap scored his first premiership try and there were two more for the premierships top try scorer this season, Sleightholme. Sam Matavesi kept the front row scoring record up with his second and then the final try came from replacement scrum half Tom James, finishing off a move he had started in his own 22. It was a perfectly finished team try in an almost perfect team has to be noted that Birthday Boy Fin Smith missed a conversion in the first half and George Furbank missed two in the second half but I’ll cut them some slack!

As for poor Gloucester, nothing, but nothing went their way. In a desperate bid not to be nilled they opted to go for the posts at 80-0 down, but their kicker sent it left of the posts.

Towards the end of the game Saints newly found inner steel was on show. Gloucester had a lineout on the 5 metre line. Most of the 15,000 crowd were willing them to get something. I looked at the faces of the Saints and said to my companion “We’re not going to let them get anything from this. We want a prefect defensive 80 minutes” And we did.

And now to Bath. Just one point would ensure we finished top without relying on anybody else’s results. The permutations for the other finishing positions are probably forming someone’s PhD thesis in Statistics, so glad we don’t need to worry about what else is going on on Saturday afternoon.

Then a semi-final under Friday night lights – does it have a familiar ring? Whilst this young side  is no doubt hoping to emulate their predecessors they will be doing their way, and it’s quite an amazing, heart stopping and entertaining way!

Photographs from Saturday, as ever, provided by Claire Jones aka Red Hat Photography. And to see and or hear the Photographer and your correspondence talking things Saintly rugby – have a listen to Ladies Wot Pod.

And if you want to see posts and discussions from fellow Saints’ fans hop over to Saints Sinners on Facebook.


Formidable hooker Curtis Langdon tries to break through the blue Irish lines with grit and determination


Hard to believe that this young man was still only 21 when he was running out at Croke Park.


At this point we dared to dream - Tom Seabrook makes it up to within five points of Leinster.


Trokkie trucking it up - how many yards does this chap gain in a game. Juarno Augustus doing his stuff


Broken-hearted but still taking time to thank the travelling support

Fun in the sun at The Gardens


Top try scorer Ollie Sleightholme - more of the same, please Ollie!


First try of the afternoon for Furbs at 49 seconds - fantastic!


Dingers gets on the scoresheet - enjoying attack as much as defence


Magic Mitch - another masterful display from our number 9 turning the opposition upside down!


Making the most of his time left in GB&G - The Goat.


Sponsored by Karcher and absolutely taken to the cleaners Gloucester attempt to repel Saints.

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