NIGEL Davies has lamented Gloucester’s performance after Northampton Saints marched to a five-try victory at Franklin’s Gardens.
The Premiership leaders avenged the only defeat of their domestic season as they turned on the style in the final quarter of an otherwise turgid encounter.
Northampton bossed territory and possession and brutally exposed Gloucester’s Achilles heel at the set-piece.
The Cherry and Whites were in the match for an hour but that was largely down to Northampton’s mistakes in an error-strewn encounter.
But having trailed by just three points at the break, following a gift apiece for Ken Pisi and Henry Trinder, Northampton dominated the second-half.
Calum Clark, Tom Stephenson, Alex Waller and Will Hooley all crossed as Gloucester imploded – leaving Davies furious at his side’s failure to enforce themselves.
He said: “It’s hugely frustrating. We didn’t impose ourselves in any aspect of the game – I’m really disappointed.
“Over the last eight weeks we have put in some big performances where we have looked to control the ball and that’s what we tried to do against Northampton.
“But we weren’t accurate and we gave away sloppy penalties. You can’t afford to do against a team of this quality.
“We were in the fight in the first-half but it was still disappointing.
“Neither team played well, it was a poor quality 40 minutes and we made the point that we were dropping off tackles.
“Unfortunately we were even worse in the second-half and when you do that against a team of the quality of Northampton
you will get hurt. They aren’t top of the league for no reason and were better than us. Aspects of their game really hurt us particularly the set-piece.”
The set-piece struggling will be no surprise to anybody who has seen Gloucester this season. Improvements have been made but against the very top teams any weakness is ruthlessly exposed and Northampton’s win was built upon forward power.
Freddie Burns once again failed to fire but he received little quality possession with Dan Robson forced to fling the ball away from the breakdown and set-piece by whatever means possible.
The refereeing of Tim Wigglesworth did not help either and several 50-50 calls went Northampton’s way with only a flurry of Gloucester penalties closing the count in the final minutes.
But Davies has few complaints and cited the build-up to Alex Waller’s try, in which Gloucester shot themselves in the foot, as a key moment.
He said: “The stats will show the penalty count against us was high and it’s key, you can’t come to Franklin’s Gardens and let that happen.
“We were very poor and have to look at ourselves, a couple of calls were tight but that’s rugby.
“The most disappointing thing is there wasn’t one aspect that we controlled.
“We just haven’t got enough elements to underpin our game so when things aren’t going great we don’t have a base to go back to.
“When we come up against top-four teams the set-piece is really straining us and to win this game and be successful you can’t afford that.
“The way we got into the area for Waller’s try was disappointing because we had the ball in our own half, were sloppy and because of that they got the scrum. When you have the ball, you have to control the game and we didn’t do that.
“It’s quite clear what we need to do and how we do it but we’re not consistent enough.”
Gloucester now have a two-week break until they return to action against Newcastle Falcons in a basement battle at Kingsholm and the entire squad have been given the first week off.
Davies admits it will be an agonising wait but he hopes the time away will have a positive effect on his struggling outfit.
Davies added: “They will have a few days off to regenerate, which has been planned all season, and hopefully they will come back refreshed and ready to go.
“It’s a shame we don’t have a game next week so we can bounce back from this. It’s going to be a very frustrating two weeks to wait.”