Planet Rugby

Run continues for Saracens

27th September 2009 16:54

Share:

Brad Barritt met by Peter Buxton

Armwrestle: Sarries edge it

Saracens moved to the top of the Guinness Premiership table after edging past Gloucester 19-16 in an underwhelming match on Sunday.

The Watford-based side had to defy the early loss of captain Steve Borthwick to preserve the only unbeaten record in the 2009/10 competition.

Replacement hooker Schalk Brits scored the decisive try and fly-half Glen Jackson chipped in with fourteen points as Saracens condemned Gloucester to their third consecutive defeat.

The Cherry and Whites had taken a second-minute lead through Rory Lawson's opportunist try and maintained that advantage until Brits barged over in the 67th minute.

Nicky Robinson landed three penalties and a conversion but he missed with an injury-time drop-goal that would have earned a draw.

Borthwick was forced off after just thirteen minutes with a nasty cut to his left eye after an apparent clash with the Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam.

Judging by the pointed words Borthwick fired towards the Gloucester players as he departed, the citing officer may well have something to look at over the next 72 hours.

Saracens were officially returning home for the first time this season after successive victories at Twickenham and Wembley in front of an extraordinary combined attendance of 110,000 fans.

The Wembley experiment against Northampton was a loss-leader designed to boost their attendances at Vicarage Road from an average of 7,000, which is economically unsustainable for the club.

Saracens' uninspiring brand of rugby may be winning matches but it is not winning them many new friends - only 7,777 turned up and some of them were booing in frustration before Brits plundered over to secure the win.

Saracens were up against it right from the off against a Gloucester side who arrived in the back of two heavy defeats but made a lively start.

Lawson put them ahead inside two minutes after Alasdair Strokosch stole the Saracens lineout ten metres out and the Scottish scrum-half darted through the gap to score.

But Saracens stuck by the boot and it once again proved effective as Gloucester failed to deal with successive high balls and on both occasions conceded penalties. Jackson stroked both kicks over.

After Borthwick departed, Gloucester showed flashes of attacking ambition but Saracens' game is built on a solid defence and they scrambled well to haul down Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu after the centre had sliced through the line.

Referee Martin Fox was playing advantage at the time and he took play back for Gloucester's first penalty of the match, which Robinson successfully converted.

Jackson and Robinson exchanged further penalties as the game descended into another drab affair of few openings and plenty of mindless, aimless kicking.

Gloucester have had discipline problem this season and after receiving a team warning for persistent infringements, Lawson became their fifth player to be sin-binned so far this term.

Jackson missed the penalty but opened the second period with a drop-goal. But, once again, Robinson replied with a penalty almost immediately.

A bulldozing run from Lesley Vainikolo drew in a clutch of Saracens defenders and his over-the-top pass sent Robinson clear into space out wide.

Robinson arrowed for the corner but Alex Goode, Saracens' England U20 international, tracked the Gloucester fly-half all the way and buried him into touch just short of the line.

Strokosch claimed the lineout ball again but this time Gloucester could not convert their opportunity, Saracens snatched a turnover and cleared their lines.

On the rare occasions when Saracens built through the phases they succeeded in putting Gloucester under pressure and it required a shuddering tackle from Lawson to stop Brad Barritt's charge.

Saracens reverted back to kicking everything and their approach began to draw jeers, whistles and slow handclaps from their own supporters during a particularly tedious bout of kick-tennis.

But Justin Marshall's introduction changed the tempo and, after Saracens kicked a penalty into the corner, the former All Black orchestrated a series of close-range attacks before Brits drove over the line.

Gloucester engineered one last change to snatch the draw but Robinson could not land the drop goal and the Cherry and Whites had to settle for a losing bonus point.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Brits
Con: Jackson
Pen: Jackson 3
Drop: Jackson

For Gloucester:
Tries: Lawson
Con: Robinson
Pen: Robinson 3

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Glen Jackson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Wikus van Heerden, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Richard Skuse, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Michael Owen, 21 Justin Marshall, 22 Derick Hougaard, 23 Richard Haughton.

Gloucester: 15 Tom Voyce, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Mike Tindall (capt), 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Adam Eustace, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Peter Buxton, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Shaun Knight, 18 Pierre Capdevielle, 19 Apo Satala, 20 Andrew Hazell, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Charlie Sharples.

Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees: Ken Stewart, Roger Baileff
Television match official: John Burtenshaw
Assessor: Gary Welsh

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Castres vs Bay Of Plenty18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs SharksPumas vs Sharks Preview
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00