Jan 09, 2015
Gloucester 24 Saracens 23
Saracens were cruelly denied a hard-fought away win at Gloucester, as James Hook’s 80th minute long-range penalty clinched victory from the jaws of defeat for the Cherry and Whites, with Gloucester running out 24-23 winners in Premiership classic at Kingsholm.
With Saracens 21-23 up and the seconds ticking away, Chris Ashton looked to have sealed the win with a runaway try only for the score to be ruled out by the match TMO. With Gloucester knocking-on before Ashton's try, sense would dictate no advantage was gained and a scrum to be called, yet JP Doyle penalised Saracens for offside, much to the bemusement of the Saracens bench. In fairness to Gloucester out half Hook, he stepped up and sunk Saracens hearts with a well-taken kick to win the game much to the delight of the fervent home side.
Saracens were off to the perfect start in the first half, when Referee JP Doyle awarded the visitors a Penalty Try after six minutes. With Saracens camped in the Cherry & Whites 22, repeated penalties were kicked into touch from stand-in out-half Alex Goode, who repalced Owen Farrell at No10 after Farrell withdrew with a muscle strain. The Gloucester pack twice pulled down a strong Sarries driving maul, and this did not escape Mr Doyle who jogged under the posts to blow his whistle. Goode converted.
Gloucester responded well, with encouragement from an uncharacteristic loose Saracens kicking game. The home side looked to use the ball at any opportunity and were met by some typically steadfast and aggressive defence from centre Duncan Taylor and unsurprisingly, Jacques Burger on numerous occasions.
The Cherry & Whites would be the next to register a score, with former Wales fly-half James Hook sending over a penalty goal after Saracens were penalised for not rolling away at the ruck.
The hosts tails were up, and with the Saracens errant kicking and poor discipline continuing to encourage David Humphreys’ charges into their own territory, Hook repeated his earlier feat by adding another penalty goal to make the scores 6-7 after 20 minutes of play.
Saracens though edged their noses in front with two quick-fire penalities of their own, when Goode slotted two well taken kicks after Gloucester indiscipline.
The Shed demanded a response from their side, and it came in the shape of an opportunist piece of magic from Dan Robson, who chipped and re-gathered to score in the left hand corner. Hook missed the conversion and a late penalty after David Strettle was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, as Saracens held a slender 11-13 lead at the break.
Just after the half-time whistle, with Mark McCall and his coaching staff’s words still fresh in the Saracens player’s ears, the visitors flew out of the traps. With a lineout deep in their half, Sarries opted to set-up the catch and drive and marched the Gloucester pack down the field. Doyle penalised the hosts.
Saracens set-up another catch and drive, and Doyle was once again forced to blow his whistle to reprimand the Gloucester pack. Saracens, now near the oppositions try line, sent the ball into the Shed for a five-metre lineout and once again set-up the maul. Unsurprisingly, the visitors crossed and it was Billy Vunipola the scorer. Goode couldn’t convert kicking into a strong wind.
This though was the highlight for Saracens in the second forty, as Gloucester began to batter the Men in Black’s defensive line. First, James Hook was held-up over the try-line. Second, were repeated drives from the Gloucester pack which yielded a penalty goal for the hosts.
From the kick-off, Gloucester raced away to score their second try of the evening, as Callum Braley raced away to score under the posts. Hook converted.
Saracens hit back with a Mako Vunipola try, again the driving maul inflicted the damage. Kicking into a strong West Country breeze, Alex Goode couldn’t land the extras.
With game finely balanced at 21-23 Saracens looked though they had sealed the win when Chris Ashton looked to have scored in the final play of the game. Agonisingly the decision went against Sarries and afforded James Hook the chance to kick the winning penalty from the half way line. He made no mistake.