Saracens overcome Gloucester in nail biter

Date published: November 27 2016

Saracens withstood a brave Gloucester effort to retain their position at the top of the Premiership following a 24-20 victory.

The Cherry and Whites' away form has been good this season and they went into the break 17-15 ahead at the home of the defending champions. Ben Morgan and Billy Burns touched down for the visitors, while James Hook kicked seven points in the opening period. 

Sarries' response in the first half came via tries from Brad Barritt and Mike Ellery before Alex Lozowski, who had scored an earlier conversion and penalty, added his third from the tee to make it 18-17 in the hosts' favour. 

Lozowski and Hook then traded three-pointers, but it wasn the Saracens pivot who had the final word following another successful kick. 

Despite suffering from international call-ups Mark McCall's men secured an impressive 28-13 triumph over a full strength Sale Sharks last weekend, but they struggled to replicate that performance against Gloucester. 

The London-based outfit found themselves 7-0 down after just two minutes when Schalk Brits knocked on from the kick-off. David Humphreys's side duly set up camp in the opposition 22 and, after a series of phases close to the hosts' line, Morgan eventually barrelled over from a metre out. 

Saracens hit back through Barritt, who charged down Mark Atkinson's attempted clearance, recollected and scored, but it was proving to be a surprisingly error-strewn first half by the home team. Another mistake, this time by England international Alex Goode, allowed Burns to regain the Cherry and Whites' advantage.

However, Sarries are the defending Premiership champions for a reason and they displayed their quality with an excellently worked try. Good hands from forwards and backs alike gave Brits space in the outside channel and, although the South African operates in the front-row, he has an excellent skill-set and the hooker off-loaded to Ellery who did the rest. 

Lozowski was awry with the conversion but made up for that miss five minutes later, putting McCall's side in front with a penalty. 

That lead did not last for long after Hook kicked a three-pointer. Lozowski duly rewarded Saracens' pressure from the tee before their scrum dominance resulted in a yellow card for Gloucester's John Afoa. 

With the tighthead prop off the field, the hosts extended their advantage via the boot of their stand-off, but Hook made it a one-point game with 10 minutes to go. 

Ultimately another Lozowski effort secured the victory.

The Scorers:

For Saracens:
Barritt, Ellery
Cons: Lozowski
Pens: Lozowski 4

For Gloucester:
Tries: Morgan, Burns
Cons: Hook 2
Pens: Hook 2

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Andrew Fenby

Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Ollie Thorley

Referee: Greg Macdonald