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Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 36 Saracens 32

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Gloucester Rugby forwards coach Trevor Woodman was full of praise for his young charges after they overturned a 20-point half-time deficit to beat Saracens 36-32 in the Anglo Welsh Cup.

Saracens led 25-5 at the break after two tries from debutant Tom Griffiths with Ben Spencer also crossing the whitewash and kicking two penalties.

But Gloucester were transformed after the interval as Dan Thomas, Henry Purdy and David Halaifonua all scored tries inside 11 second-half minutes.

Visiting fly-half Tom Whiteley secured a try-bonus point for his team, but a penalty try put Gloucester within a single point before Halaifonua’s last-gasp score to win the match.

And Woodman hopes the impressive second-half display will be a foundation for a strong showing in the tournament from his side.

“It is a great platform for us going into the next stage of the competition – first and foremost you always look to get the win and to get the bonus point is the cherry on top,” he said.

“It puts us in a good position, depending on how the other results go in our pool.

“It is a great result, because in the first half they really came out at us, and we had far too many errors, which gave Saracens that deserved lead.

“We just did not execute our game plan well enough in the first half – there were too many simple errors.

“We just got everyone back on the same page, got their heads on and got them thinking about the next 40 minutes and what their next job was and just go out and keep doing that time and time again.”

Meanwhile Saracens academy coach Ian Vass refused to be too upset with the defeat for the reigning champions, who were led by Maro Itoje in the competition two years ago.

Vass believes there is more to come from the squad and expects two bonus points and the experience of playing at Kingsholm will stand his side in good stead.

“There’s a few lessons for us to learn, that’s for sure, but this is a young side and they’ll be better for this experience in the long run,” he said.

“Gloucester played very well in the second half – credit to them for how they got back into the game and they finished it off – but we’re disappointed to lose that game.

“We’ve got two losing bonus points away from home and a game at Allianz Park against Newcastle to look forward to.

“It’s an important competition for players to put their hands up and young players to gain some experience, so we’ll dust ourselves down and look forward to Monday to prepare for the Falcons.”

Teams

Gloucester Rugby: Protheroe (Robinson 76), Halaifonua, Purdy, Creed, Thorley, Evans, Braley (Vellacott 74), Orr (Doran-Jones 41), Mullis (Walker 33), Ma’afu (Knight 56), Beckett (Safe 41), Batley, Clarke, Thomas, Ludlow

Saracens: Fenby, Ellery, Tompkins, Tom Griffiths, Gallagher (Perkins 29 (Nathan Earle 59)), Whiteley, Spencer (Henry Taylor 40), Barrington (Thompson-Stringer 71), Spurling (Saunders 55), Koch, Flanagan, Isiekwe, Conlon (Nay 65), Brown, Vunisa (Earl 51)

Gloucester 36

Tries: J Mullis, D Thomas, H Purdy, D Halaifonua 2, penalty

Conversions: Evans 3

Saracens 32

Tries: Griffiths 2, Spencer, Whiteley

Conversions: Griffiths 2, T Whiteley

Penalties: B Spencer 2

Attendance: 11,660
Referee: Matthew O’Grady

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