Match Reaction: Saracens 24 Gloucester Rugby 20
Director of rugby Mark McCall felt the result was more important than the performance on Sunday as Saracens ground out a battling win over Gloucester Rugby.
Three second-half penalties from Alex Lozowski eventually got the reigning Aviva Premiership Rugby champions over the line for their 12th consecutive home win in all competitions.
However they were pushed hard by a spirited Gloucester side who took the lead early through Ben Morgan before Brad Barritt levelled.
Billy Burns and Mike Ellery then traded tries as the visitors led by two at the break before Saracens hit back in the second-half.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) November 27, 2016
And McCall was quick to signal out the performance of man-of-the-match Barritt in keeping their opponents at bay.
“They don’t always get it right on TV but I thought Brad Barritt was a clear man of the match. Some of his tackling was out of this world,” he said.
“It was a really tough, close game which could have gone either way.
“I guess at this time of year, these kind of games, it’s just about getting the result and we were fortunate enough to get that result.
“We weren’t perfect. Far from it but I do think we showed resilience at crucial times bounced back from a few pretty poor scores and then we just did enough in the second half to eek over the line.
“It’s just one of those things. You drop the restart, you drop the high ball and they score. We defended well the whole game but that first 60 seconds of defence was pretty awful.
“We knew it was going to be one of those games which to-ed and fro-ed and both teams made some mistakes along the way.
“The players have said that’s the toughest Gloucester side they’ve played against.”
Absolutely gutted to go so close but fall just short against Europe’s best. Will learn from it and improve.
— Charlie Sharples (@CharlieSharples) November 27, 2016
The result leaves Gloucester tenth in the table, although they did at least leave with a losing bonus point.
And, while pleased with his players’ endeavours, director of rugby David Humphreys could not help but think of what could have been as the Cherry and Whites came close to a first ever win at Allianz Park.
“It was an unbelievable effort but we’re very disappointed,” he said.
“We gave ourselves a very good opportunity to win the game. We had three try scoring opportunities: Henry Purdy which was very good defending on the cross-kick, Billy Burns’ clean break and then the one with Charlie when he broke at the top right hand corner.
“Against a team who defend as well as Saracens you have got to take your opportunities. The positive is that we created a lot of opportunities.
“I thought we played some good rugby. I thought the effort and energy made it difficult for Saracens but ultimately it wasn’t enough to win the game.
“When opportunities arise against a team as good as this you have got to take them.”
Saracens: Goode; Ellery, Bosch (Tompkins, 67), Barritt, Wyles; Lozowski (Fenby, 75), Wigglesworth (Spencer, 60); Barrington (Lamositele, 55), Brits, Du Plessis (Figallo, 43), Rhodes, Hamilton, Brown, Burger, Wray
Not used: Saunders, Flanagan, Conlon,
Gloucester: Hook; Sharples, Scott, Atkinson, Purdy (Braley, 67); Burns (Twelvetrees, 63), Heinz (Doran-Jones, 67); McAllister (Hohneck, 55), Hibbard, Afoa; Savage, Galarza (Latta, 67); Ludlow, Rowan, Morgan (Kvesic, 68).
Not used: Lindsay, Thorley
Tries: Ellery, Barritt
Penalties: Lozowski 4
Tries: Morgan, Burns
Conversions: Hook 2
Penalties: Hook 2
Referee: Greg MacDonald