MATCH REPORT | Saracens Men 41-39 Gloucester Rugby
Saracens Men completed a truly remarkable comeback to make it two wins from two in the Gallagher Premiership with a 41-39 victory over Gloucester.
Sarries trailed 36-20 with just 20 minutes to play, but two tries from Tom Woolstencroft in the last five minutes and a conversion from Owen Farrell with the last play of the game rescued a stunning win.
Sarries wasted no time and got in front with just three minutes on the clock in stunning style. Max Malins was put through a huge gap and he passed inside to Ivan van Zyl, and then from the next phase it went wide to the winger who went over in the corner for his third try of the season.
The conversion from Owen Farrell made it 7-0 and confirmed the dream start.
Gloucester then started to apply some pressure and had multiple phases in the 22, but a huge hit from Mako Vunipola stopped them in their tracks and got a much-needed turnover.
That pressure did tell though as just before the 20 minute mark they forced their way over. Phase after phase took them all the way up to the line, and Val Rapava-Ruskin was the beneficiary from just one metre out to score. Adam Hastings converted to level the score.
Theo McFarland’s dancing feet then saw him burst through in to the visitors’ half but a lack of support meant the chance passed by, however a penalty from Farrell just two minutes later re-installed the lead for the hosts.
That lead grew with 25 minutes played as Ben Earl cruised over for try number two. Farrell’s pass put Elliot Daly straight through the defence, and he calmly drew in the final defender before releasing Earl who could stroll over from close range in front of the South Stand. Daly then covered the try that he made to extend the advantage to 17-7.
Hastings then kicked a penalty from right in front of the sticks to get the Cherry and Whites back within a score, but Farrell soon cancelled that out with another three-pointer.
Gloucester struck just before the break as Albert Tuisue rumbled over from a rolling maul, and with the conversion by Hastings all of a sudden it was just a three point game going in to half time, as Sarries went down the tunnel with a 20-17 advantage.
Chris Harris gave the visitors the ideal start to the second half as they hit the front for the first time in the match just two minutes after the restart. A penalty was kicked to the corner, and then they broke away from the maul and went from right to left as the Scotland centre dived over on the far side.
It got better for them just two minutes later after Fraser Balmain broke through and then eventually found Hastings on the wing for their bonus point try. He then converted it from the touchline as the game was turned on its head with Gloucester now 29-20 ahead.
They didn’t stop there though, this time it was Rapava-Ruskin again from yet another maul, as the Cherry and Whites threatened to pull away with their third try of the second half at a stunned StoneX. Hastings again converted, and the hosts now needed to overturn a 16-point deficit in just 25 minutes.
Sarries then got themselves back in the match with 15 minutes to go to set up a grandstand finish at StoneX. A penalty was hammered towards the corner and then just after the maul was pulled down Josh Hallett carried and bundled over to bring the home fans back to life. Farrell’s conversion meant the deficit was now nine points.
They struggled however to build on that momentum, and the visitors capitalised with another Hastings penalty to edge them further in front in the closing stages.
McCall’s side refused to lie down though, and with just five minutes left they gave themselves a chance of salvaging the game. A penalty was kicked to the corner and Tom Woolstencroft stayed patient to creep over the line from a rampaging rolling maul. Farrell’s excellent touchline conversion made it 34-29 with the clock winding down.
Then in almost identical fashion another penalty went to the corner with the clock in the red, and Woolstencroft threw himself over the line to spark wild scenes in North London. That then meant that it all came down to Farrell on his birthday and his conversion was never in doubt, as all of the squad bundled on him to confirm what was an astonishing victory.