Gloucester lift the cup . . . and financial gloom

Gloucester 40

Northampton 22

GLOUCESTER plan to capitalise on their Powergen Cup triumph by persuading James Simpson-Daniel to sign a new contract. The flying wing, whose match-winning performance against Northampton was capped by two tries, says talks are moving "in the right direction".

The Kingsholm club may have financial difficulties, but they must hope success on the field - they are on course for a league and cup double - will be enough to keep their rivals’ hands off their best players.

Simpson-Daniel is one of several Gloucester players whose existing deals will end next month, but the indications are that the 20-year-old will not be going anywhere.

"Obviously, I would like to stay at Gloucester," he said. "That is the first thing that has got to be said. As long as things are right, then I would love to stay. Gloucester are on the up, they are going places."

Simpson-Daniel and fellow Gloucester young guns, 22-year-old No 8 James Forrester and 19-year-old wing Marcel Garvey - all scored tries as the Cherry and Whites condemned Northampton to a fourth cup final defeat in 12 years.

An epic match, in which the lead changed hands seven times, went Gloucester’s way as they racked up 20 unanswered second-half points to thrill their 25,000 travelling fans and lift the financial gloom.

"It was absolutely perfect, it was as good as it could have been," said Simpson-Daniel. "We won the final, and that’s all that counts. Sides who play great rugby but don’t win, are not remembered."

Gloucester, winners in 1972, 1978 and shared recipients with Moseley in 1982 after a 12-12 draw, became only the third team - after Bath and Saracens - to score 40 points in English cup rugby’s 31-year history of Twickenham finals.

"We’ve delivered at a very important time of the season," said Rugby Director Nigel Melville, whose players have completed part one of a potential domestic league and cup double. "I certainly can’t complain at how the season has gone so far."

John Leslie, Northampton’s co-captain alongside his former Scotland team-mate Budge Pountney, admits that he does not know how a third cup final defeat in four years will affect a team with a Heineken Cup quarter-final visit to Toulouse looming on Saturday.

"I don’t know if it will work for or against us." he said

Next week’s a new challenge and we have to get up and go for it. If we don’t believe in ourselves we’re not going to have a lot of chance. We’re hurting right now, but come Monday we’ve have got to be focused."

Attendance: 75,000

Scorers: Tries: Simpson-Daniel (2), Garvey, Forrester. Cons: Mercier (4). Pens: Mercier 3. Drop-goals: Mercier. Northampton: Tries: Beal. Con: Grayson. Pens: Grayson (5).

Gloucester: T Delport; M Garvey, T Fanolua, H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; L Mercier, A Gomarsall; T Woodman, O Azam, A Deacon, A Eustace, R Fidler, J Boer, A Hazell, J Forrester. Subs: J Paramore for Boer 26-38, Todd for Paul 75, J Paramore for Hazell 62, D Pearce for Paramore (75).

Northampton: N Beal; B Reihana, P Jorgensen, J Leslie, B Cohen; P Grayson, M Dawson; T Smith, S Thompson, R Morris, M Lord, S Williams, M Connors, B Pountney, A Blowers. Subs: C Hyndman for Jorgensen 64, M Stewart for Morris 55, Fox for Williams 77.

Referee: T Spreadbury (RFU).