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Gloucester Rugby 8 Saracens 29

04 Jan 2014
Gloucester Rugby 8 Saracens 29

Saracens ended a miserable run of results at Kingsholm as Mark McCall’s men continued their irresistible form at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

Tries from Neil De Kock, David Strettle and Alex Goode saw Saracens run out comfortable winners as the visitors recorded their highest ever total at Kingsholm.

It took just four minutes for Saracens, who had won just once at Gloucester since 2005, to assert their physical dominance at the breakdown – a strong drive from British Lion Mako Vunipola saw the visitors held up just short of the line.

Gloucester scrum-half Jimmy Cowan was adjudged to have been caught on the wrong side of the ruck – he was sin-binned for his troubles and England fly-half Owen Farrell slotted over the penalty in front of the posts to get the scoreboard ticking.

Sarries have laid waste to all but Northampton Saints this season, winning ten out of 11 games at the Aviva Premiership’s halfway stage to become only the third side to do so in the tournament’s history.

And it was easy to see why on nine minutes as Neil De Kock ran in for Saracens’ first try of the afternoon in the corner – set-up expertly from a driving maul, followed by a break off the base from hooker Schalk Brits and an off-load – Farrell missed the resulting conversion.

Kingsholm has been far from a fortress this season – the Cherry & Whites’ 12-6 victory over Worcester Warriors two weeks ago ending a three-game Aviva Premiership losing streak in front of their own fans.

But in poor conditions, Gloucester rarely looked like extending this record – Billy Vunipola so powerful in the loose for Saracens in the England No.8 audition against Ben Morgan, as the Cherry & Whites chased three straight wins in the Aviva Premiership for the first time since October 2012.

On 16 minutes Gloucester were penalised at scrum-time – a real Achilles heel this season, allowing Farrell a shot at goal to stretch Saracens’ lead to 11-0.

Saracens were now completely dominating the set-piece and after Gloucester centre Mike Tindall was penalised for kicking the ball out on the full, a flowing move saw Brits feed winger David Strettle, who ran in under the posts for his eighth try of the season on 21 minutes – Farrell this timed missed his kick at goal.

And on the half hour it was 19-0 as Farrell landed a penalty to leave Gloucester with an absolute mountain to climb.

England-centre Billy Twelvetrees, kicking in place of No.10 Freddie Burns, handed Gloucester a late lifeline on 38 minutes, kicking a penalty to finally put his side on the scoreboard.

Alex Goode scored Saracens’ third try of the afternoon on 47 minutes – a flowing move from the visitors saw the England full-back barge over – Farrell added the extras.

Gloucester at last found some momentum in the final 30 minutes – continued pressure saw Billy Vunipola yellow carded, while minutes later Saracens were down to 13 men as skipper Steve Borthwick was also sin-binned for taking a man out in the air at a lineout.

But Saracens showed their ability at scrum-time, resisting Gloucester pressure and winning a penalty from a five-metre scrum despite their obvious numerical disadvantage.

And it got worse for Gloucester as they conceded a further penalty, allowing Farrell to make it 29-3 despite Sarries playing with two men less.

Gloucester finally had something to cheer about with ten minutes remaining as Matt Cox burrowed over for a Cherry & Whites’ score – unfortunately Twelvetrees couldn’t add the extras.

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