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Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 36 Saracens 32

05 Nov 2016
Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 36 Saracens 32

A last-minute try from winger David Halaifonua capped off a remarkable Gloucester Rugby comeback as they beat Saracens 36-32 in the Anglo Welsh Cup.

A try double from debutant Tom Griffiths had put Saracens in control during the first half with Ben Spencer adding a third try and two penalties.

With the Cherry and Whites 25-5 down at the break, three tries in 11 second half minutes brought the hosts right back into the game as both sides secured try bonus points.

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Kelly Brown was shown a yellow card and Lloyd Evans hit the post with a penalty effort with barely three minutes to play before Halaifonua’s second try of the afternoon gave Gloucester a dramatic victory .

Griffiths opened the scoring in just the seventh minute after making a break from midfield and dotting down under the posts to give Saracens a 7-0 lead.

Gloucester responded two minutes later after kicking to the corner and successfully driving the line-out over the line with Joe Mullis touching the ball down to make the score 7-5.

Spencer extended the visitors’ lead with a penalty before more pressure from Saracens created an overlap for Griffiths to grab his second try of the afternoon.

Another penalty stretched the lead to 18-5 before the Spencer gave a sublime dummy and raced under the posts with the 24-year-old successfully converting his own score.

Spencer, who surpassed Ben Blair as the top points scorer in the history of the Anglo Welsh Cup during the game, was replaced at half-time for debutant Henry Taylor.

Needing a big comeback, Gloucester duly delivered with Dan Protheroe making the decisive break before off-loading to Dan Thomas to cross in the corner.

Evans missed the conversion but Henry Purdy, who had minutes earlier been held up over the line, crossed following  a cutting pass from Callum Braley to make it 17-25 after 55 minutes.

And Gloucester had their third try in 11 second-half minutes as Purdy’s long pass found David Halaifonua on the wing who forced his way over.

A second successful conversion of the afternoon from Evans left Gloucester trailing by just a single point at 25-24 with 20 minutes still to play.

But Saracens fought back to restore their advantage with debutant fly-half Tom Whiteley grabbing the visitors own try bonus point and successfully converting his own score.

Gloucester were then awarded a penalty try as Brown infringed at driving maul and was subsequently shown a yellow card as Evans’ conversion moved the score to 31-32 with ten minutes to play.

In a tense and nervy finale, fly-half Evans hit the post with a penalty from 25 metres with just three minutes left to play with Saracens eventually managing to clear.

But the visitors couldn’t hold on as more pressure from the home side saw them complete their incredible second-half performance as Halaifonua crossed as the clock ticked past 80 minutes.

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