NORTHAMPTON boss Jim Mallinder hailed his side after completing the first phase of a potential treble with a scintillating victory in the LV= Cup final.
Saints edged it with tries from prop Soane Tonga’uiha, centre James Downey and scrum-half Lee Dickson in a match in which the lead changed hands five times. Fly-half Stephen Myler’s flawless boot reaped 15 points and condemned Gloucester to defeat in the final for a second year in succession.
Mallinder said: “Cup finals are all about winning. You would take 3-0 in a final, but it is more encouraging when you can go out and play like that.
“There were two teams who wanted to play rugby, and I thought it was a good advert for the game. It shows how far the side has progressed, and it was great for our fantastic set of fans who have supported us through thick and thin. It was special.”
Victory at Worcester’s Sixways ground sealed Northampton’s place in next year’s Heineken Cup and kept them on course for the treble. They are in the last eight in Europe and just two points behind Premiership leaders Leicester.
Gloucester boss Bryan Redpath, meanwhile, was left to rue another near miss, despite seeing flanker Akapusi Qera touch down and Nicky Robinson kick 14 points, including a converted penalty try.
“It is never easy, losing finals,” said Redpath, whose team lost to Cardiff last year. “It was a game that could have gone either way – Nicky Robinson said he’d scored in the second-half [it was not given], but that’s life. I can’t change it now. Nicky said he had scored, but it didn’t happen and you get on with it. We didn’t control possession well enough and there were one or two little errors.”