Planet Rugby

Saracens hold out Gloucester

02nd December 2012 16:46

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Charlie Hodgson kicking from hand for Saracens

23 points: Charlie Hodgson

Saracens moved back up to second in the Aviva Premiership standings after they overcame Gloucester 28-23 in an absorbing clash in Watford on Sunday.

The opening exchanges of the game were a fractious affair as both sides struggled to create any impetus to implement attacking chances.

Billy Twelvetrees and Charlie Hodgson, returning from an injury lay-off, exchanged two penalties apiece as referee Sean Davey was quick to punish any ruck infringements.

As the Cherry and Whites were imposing themselves on the Saracens try-line, loosehead prop Dan Murphy showed a quick turn of pace to charge down a misguided Hodgson kicked before collecting to score. Twelvetrees' conversion put Gloucster into a 13-6 lead.

Just minutes after his try-scoring exploits, Murphy was sin-binned for not releasing in the tackle. Hodgson made the most of the numerical advantage with a further two penalties bringing the London side to within a point at half-time.

Hodgson landed a penalty early in the second half to give his side the lead for the first time in the game.

Gloucester immediately struck back when a bout of impressive multi-phase attacks enabled Akapusi Qera to cross for a converted try and reclaim the lead.

In a similar vein to the first half, Gloucester's try was preceded by a yellow card, the guilty party on this occasion being Tongan number eight Sione Kalamafoni.

Gloucester's lack of discipline was being punished by the metronomic boot of Hodgson as he continued his 100 per cent kicking record reducing the arrears to 20-18.

Replacement scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth raced to the line to score after a fine display of counter-attacking play by the hosts' backline.

Tweletrees and Hodgson traded penalties to leave the score finely posed at 28-23 with 10 minutes remaining.

As the Cherry and Whites bombarded the Saracens line, Wigglesworth was the third player to be yellow-carded, but the hosts bravely held on to record a vital win over their top-of-the-table rivals.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Try: Wigglesworth
Con: Hodgson
Pen: Hodgson 7

For Gloucester:
Tries: Murphy, Qera
Con: Twelvetrees 2
Pen: Twelvetrees 3
Yellow cards: Murphy (32 mins), Kalamafoni (50 mins)

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 David Strettle, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 James Short, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 George Kruis, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Kameli Ratuvou.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Martyn Thomas, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Jim Hamilton (c), 4 Will James, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Shane Monahan.

Referee: Sean Davey
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Kevin Stewart
Television match official: Graham Hughes
Timekeeper: Roy Marfleet
Assessor: Paul Bridgman

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