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Match Report: Saracens 24 Gloucester 20

27 Nov 2016
Match Report: Saracens 24 Gloucester 20

Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens strengthened their position at the top of the table but they were pushed hard by a resurgent Gloucester Rugby side.

The Cherry and Whites, who ended a four-game Aviva Premiership Rugby winless streak with victory over Wasps last Saturday, enjoyed a perfect start with Ben Morgan going over inside 60 seconds.

They went on to lead 17-15 at the break too with Billy Burns try and James Hook’s penalty adding to their tally.

But Saracens also dotted down twice in the first-half through man of the match Brad Barritt and Mike Ellery to stay in touch before grinding out the win in the second-half thanks to three Alex Lozowski penalties – the Saracens man finishing the game with 14 points as his side recorded their 12th consecutive home win in all competitions.

Gloucester started on the front foot and were rewarded in the first minute as Morgan powered over to score after Saracens spilled the ball from kick off. Hook converted to make it 7-0.

But Sarries were level after just 11 minutes though as Barritt charged down Mark Atkinson’s kick and collected the loose ball to score under the posts.

Gloucester retook the lead after 14 minutes as another kick was dropped by Alex Goode and Billy Burns pounced to score with Hook converting again to make it 14-7.

The lead didn’t last long however as Ellery scored the fourth try of a breathless first-half just three minutes later following neat work from Goode and Schalk Brits, with Lozowski unable to kick the extras.

He was on target with a penalty on 22 minutes to edge the hosts in front before Goode’s last ditch tackle on Henry Purdy prevented a third Gloucester try.

However play was brought back for an earlier penalty and Hook scored to make it 17-15 to Gloucester, while the same man’s mammoth kick from inside his own half fell short to prevent the visitors from going further ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Gloucester had a great chance to add to their lead after 50 minutes as Burns broke away brilliantly but he got his attempted kick through to Purdy all wrong and the chance was wasted.

Gloucester were piling on the pressure and almost scored as Charlie Sharples broke down the right wing but a knock-on saved Sarries from falling further behind.

Lozowski put Saracens back into the lead after 57 minutes as he kicked a penalty from just inside the Gloucester half to make it 18-17.

And the game tilted back in Saracens favour as John Afoa was shown a yellow card and sent to the sin bin after 61 minutes for an infringement at the scrum.

Lozowski kicked another penalty three minutes later to stretch the home side’s lead after Josh Hohneck was penalised to make it 21-17 to Saracens.

Saracens conceded a penalty for not rolling away after 70 minutes and Hook’s kick was successful to reduce the deficit to just one point.

But Saracens came again and, after getting to within inches of the Gloucester line, strengthened their position with another Lozowski penalty.

Hook’s off-target effort from the tee with two minutes remaining saw any hopes of Gloucester’s trying to snatch a first ever victory at Allianz Park slip away, although they did at least leave with a losing bonus point.