Richard Wigglesworth’s second-half try put Saracens on their way to a hard-fought Aviva Premiership victory over Gloucester Rugby – who paid dearly for their indiscipline.
Scrum-half Wigglesworth’s try was five of 12 points scored by Sarries while Gloucester were down to 14 men with Dan Murphy sin-binned in the first half and Sione Kalamafoni in the second.
Prior to that, Gloucester had taken a 13-12 lead at half-time as Murphy polished off the only try of the opening 40 minutes after Charlie Hodgson’s kick had been charged down.
But after the break Saracens showed their mettle and despite a try from Akapusi Qera, Wigglesworth’s score and Hodgson’s boot was enough to see the hosts home.
With Freddie Burns on international duty, the Gloucester No.10 jersey and the kicking responsibilities fell to Bill Twelvetrees, who made an immediate impact with the first score of the match – a penalty on two minutes.
He swiftly made it 6-0 on six minutes but Hodgson replied in kind and levelled the scores at 6-6 with two penalties – the second on 26 minutes.
Just two minutes later, Hodgson wanted too much time to set himself for his clearing kick and after the ball was charged down, prop Murphy showed the dexterity of a back to pick up and dot down – Twelvetrees adding the extras.
Murphy was soon in the bin however Hodgson notched another two penalties to ensure Saracens trailed by just one at the half-time interval and he nudged his side ahead with his fifth penalty of the match.
Restored to their full compliment just after the break however, Gloucester demonstrated the form that has won them numerous plaudits this term and Qera finished off a fine move in the corner with Twelvetrees again converting for a 20-15 lead.
But then it was Kalamafoni’s turn to take an unwanted breather and in that time, Hodgson’s boot trimmed the gap to three before Wigglesworth’s decisive score, which was converted by his on-song fly-half.
Twelvetrees kept Gloucester very much in the hunt with another penalty on 68 minutes, taking the Cherry & Whites back to within two but again Hodgson responded when the visitors’ discipline was again slack.
Gloucester, sensing that they could deliver a late knock-out blow, dominated possession in the closing stages but Sarries’ defence stood firm despite a battering from the visiting forwards.
A series of strong Gloucester scrums just a few metres from the Saracens line threatened a penalty try but it was not forth-coming, and indeed the Londoners won a penalty of their own to hold out for a 28-23 win.
With the victory Saracens moved up into second in the Aviva Premiership table while Gloucester missed out on going into the top four and remain in sixth spot.