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Saracens pip Gloucester in the West Saracens pip Gloucester in the West

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Saracens pip Gloucester in the West

The visitors' victory was built totally on their 'no frills' approach as they rarely opened out and kept it tough and tight and it was their sustained pressure on the Gloucester line that led to the crucial penalty try awarded by referee David Rose in the 72nd minute.

Gloucester's failure to win at home again brought a dismal end to their league matches. They would have done better to put more faith in their backs, but in also keeping it tight they played right into Saracens' game plan. Whilst Gloucester did well in the lineout, Saracens driving and forward power made all the difference.

Gloucester got off to the best possible start when a series of drives put them in penalty range and when Saracens infringed Duncan McRae slotted the kick inside three minutes.

Sarries had a good chance with their own penalty when Gloucester's captain Adam Balding was penalised but Saracens opted for a kick to touch and Gloucester kept them out.

Saracens then launched a series of counter-attacks, sparked by Tevita Vaikona's long pass which enabled Rafa Ibanez to set up Ben Johnston's try. Nicky Little converted as the home fans were upset claiming a forward pass in the scoring move.

It continued to be tough and uncompromising forward play from both sides with Saracens having a let off when McRae's penalty bounced off the posts and then over the line with Gloucester's scrambling attackers unable to touch down.

When Gloucester were penalised for pulling down another Sarries drive inside the 25, Saracens again went for a kick to touch only to lose the lineout again. Gloucester continued under pressure for the later stages of the half with the Saracens pack exercising increasing control.

Gloucester's problems had been compounded by having to substitute Jon Goodridge and England flanker Andy Hazell after 34 minutes.

An early second-half Saracens penalty was put wide only for McRae to miss a sitter and even when Andy Gomarsall took over he also put his penalty wide, vital misses which Gloucester were later to regret.

As Gloucester hit back again with some good forward play of their own it was Saracens who were again penalised and this time McRae produced a better kick to take the side to within a point.

The score was the impetus Gloucester needed and James Forrester found space to set up Olly Morgan for Gloucester's first try which McRae concerted.

Minutes later, Forrester was yellow-carded and as Saracens hit back they got their crucial penalty-try which Glen Jackson converted to put Saracens back a point in front.

Saracens continued to keep it tight and close and when a Gloucester kick was charged down, Richard Hill had the chance for another try but unusually the England flanker unexpectedly knocked on. Saracens, who had earlier had Hugh Vyvyan yellow-carded, kept to their game plan perfectly to play out time for a tight victory.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:Try: MorganCon: McRaePens: McRae

For SaracensTries: Johnston, penalty tryCons: Little, Jackson

Gloucester: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 James Bailey, 13 James Simpson-Daniel, 12 Terry Fanolua, 11 Olly Morgan, 10 Duncan McRae, 9 Andy Gomarsall, 8 Adam Balding (c), 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Jake Boer, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Adam Eustace, 3 Gary Powell, 2 Mefin Davies, 1 Nick Wood.Replacements: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Terry Sigley, 18 Peter Buxton, 19 James Forrester, 20 Alex Page, 21 Brad Davies, 22 Simon Amor/Mark Foster

Saracens: 15 Thomas Castaignède, 14 Ben Johnston, 13 Kevin Sorrell, 12 Dan Harris, 11 Tevita Vaikona, 10 Mark Bartholomeusz, 9 Kyran Bracken, 8 Hugh Vyvyan (c), 7 Richard Hill, 6 Taine Randell, 5 Simon Raiwalui, 4 Kris Chesney, 3 Cobus Visagie, 2 Raphael Ibanez, 1 Kevin Yates.Replacements: (from) Matt Cairns, Nick Lloyd, Iain Fullarton, Ben Skirving, Moses Rauluni, Nicky Little, Glen Jackson, Richard Haughton

Referee: David RoseAssessor: Brian LeighTouch judges: Lloyd Jackson, Andy Melrose

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