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Match Report: Saracens 25 Gloucester Rugby 12

20 Feb 2016
Match Report: Saracens 25 Gloucester Rugby 12

Charlie Hodgson added 20 points to Ben Ransom’s early try as Saracens bounced back from last weekend’s humbling home defeat to edge past Gloucester Rugby.

Saracens were well beaten by Wasps at Allianz Park six days earlier and welcomed a Gloucester side seeking a third straight win for the first time since 2012.

They made a flying start, as Ransom crossed over inside the opening five minutes, but the hosts were forced to dig in, playing for an hour with just 14 men.

However, Hodgson added six penalties to his early conversion to keep the Cherry & Whites at bay and ensure Saracens will finish the weekend as Aviva Premiership Rugby leaders.

Ransom struck after just four minutes, sending a neat grubber kick through the Gloucester backline before skipping around his man, collecting the ball himself and crossing over, Hodgson converting.

The hosts didn’t have it all their own way in the opening stages but a strong scrum and well-organised defence kept them marginally on top.

Hodgson took on a long-range penalty shortly before the quarter-hour mark, when the Cherry & Whites infringed at the maul, but his effort to extend the lead fell short.

Gloucester began to gain some momentum, Sione Kalamafoni pinching a lineout before a strong drive earned them a penalty and James Hook’s boot found a promising touch.

Brad Barritt then found himself in the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Ross Moriarty and fly-half Hook pulled three points back from the tee on 23 minutes.

However, Hodgson hit back with three of his own shortly afterwards, after Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded Saracens a scrum penalty, as the visitors struggled to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

However, just as Barritt was due to return, Mr Maxwell Keys – after deliberation with TMO Rowan Kitt – showed Schalk Brits a red card for violent conduct on the half-hour.

Hook and Hodgson traded penalties once again before but Gloucester narrowly missed a great chance to score their first try, Mark Atkinson feeding Dan Murphy but he spilt the final offload – Saracens leading 13-6 at the break.

That gap closed to four points shortly after the break when Hook sent over a third penalty, before Gloucester halted Juan Figallo just short of their own try line.

Hodgson kept the visitors at an arm’s length with another three points a quarter of an hour into the second half and this time it was his opposite number’s turn to swiftly follow suit, after Sarries surrendered a scrum penalty.

At that point, Gloucester introduced Henry Trinder for his first Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance since the centre grabbed a try double against Harlequins on December 27, but he struggled to make an impact on the game.

Matt Kvesic’s final contribution of the afternoon was to play the ball on the floor and hand Hodgson another pop at the posts, which he converted for a 19-12 lead with 15 minutes to play.

The experienced stand-off pushed the gap out to ten from the tee, thanks to a monstrous Saracens scrum, and another penalty three minutes from time ended any hopes Gloucester help of salvaging a losing bonus point.

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