|Nicky Robinson *Yellow|
Attendance - 13,388
soft soggy surface at Kingsholm but there was nothing sub-standard about
a riveting, rip-roaring, robust clash between two sides that defied the
poor conditions to produce an entertaining game of high intensity from the
start to the dramatic finish.
Gloucester just edged it at the finish by the narrowest of margins, their performance highlighted by an inspired performance from young full back 19 year old Freddie Burns who contributed 19 points with the boot in an outstanding all-round showing. Who would have thought that only last year he was playing at Cinderford?
Saracens have only won once at Kingsholm but their league position, plus recent form in putting fifty-plus points on Newcastle suggested that inconsistent Gloucester could well struggle with what was considered by many to be a weak side, especially after having lost mid-week at Newcastle.
Despite the wet and heavy conditions both sides showed a willingness to move the ball but the first points on the board came from Burns and Glen Jackson for Saracens who had a try ruled out by the television match official.
Burns edged the hosts in front but that was cancelled out by an excellent well-worked try from Saracens on the half hour as the ball was worked through many hands with short sharp passes from their own half allowing centre Brad Barritt to cross. Jackson’s conversion was a formality to take the score to 10-6.
Gloucester’s response was not long in coming with a strong surging break from Tim Molenaar and when he was checked, E.F.S threw out a long pass like a ballistic missile but winger Charlie Sharples gathered it in to score. Burns converted from wide out on the right. 13-10.
Jackson levelled the scores with a penalty before Burns was again on target from the left touchline.
The second half saw an eventful start as Jackson missed a penalty before Gloucester struck again when an astute cross-kick by Freddie Burns was snapped up by Charlie Sharples who squeezed over in the corner. Burns touch-line kick was spot-on to put the hosts 23-13 well in front before he added another successful kick.
Gloucester surrendered their advantage conceding another soft penalty to allow Saracens to hit back with a second sharp try through winger Chris Wyles. 26-18.
Burns kept up his accurate kicking with another penalty but the visitors were not finished getting a penalty from replacement Derick Hougaard before full back Alex Goode scored with just five minutes remaining to narrow the gap to a single point with Hougaard’s simple conversion. 29-28.
A tense nerve-wracking finale was inevitable and when Gloucester strangely replaced hooker Ollie Azam with Scott Lawson they lost the ensuing lineout and conceded a penalty just inside the Saracens half.
Hougaard had the chance to snatch the win for the visitors at the death but his long kick was wide of the mark and the Cherry and Whites had done enough to deserve a thrilling victory. Time to celebrate.
Gloucester’s win was based on a strong determined effort from a make-shift pack with the front row of Paul Doran-Jones, Ollie Azam and Alasdair Dickinson providing the dominant platform for the forward effort. There is no doubt that Gloucester's pack is not the same without Azam.
Saracens tried to match the Gloucester forward effort but were not quite good enough as Will James once again caught the eye with a barn-storming showing whilst Rory Lawson was as industrious as ever tackling far beyond his weight but it was the young Freddie Burns who was the hero for the home side in keeping alive the Cherry and Whites' slender hopes of Heineken Cup qualification.
Pricey's Postscript -
Games like that get the pulse racing but they must take years off your life! Saracens were a constant threat throughout the match but what won it for Gloucester was 10 minutes of power play in the second half when they revved up their game to leave Saracens floundering all over the pitch. A well won try from Charlie Sharples and some excellent kicking by Freddie Burns pushed Gloucester into a strong lead which down to the wire was sufficient to give them a one point win.
When both sides played the ball through their hands they looked good, especially so, Saracens, who scored an absolute cracker of a try. It started in their 22 and they worked through both forwards and backs for a great score. Both teams looked only average when they kicked and when they view the video of the game they will see the lessons to be learned.
I' m not going to comment on Saracens indiscipline as there is more than enough to say about Gloucester’s. All too often they gave away possession and more importantly territory by sloppy and stupid play. The worst offence was by Capdevielle who came on as substitute in the second half. Ten metres into the Saracens half and he came charging and went straight off his feet. The resultant penalty landed just outside the Gloucester 22 and from the lineout (at which Saracens were magnificent all afternoon) they worked the phases and went over for another try.
That penalty was just plain dumb. What was equally dumb was the decision to change the hooker for the last lineout of the match. Why Redpath chose to bring on Lawson who had not even touched the ball before being given the task of throwing in at the lineout defies belief. It almost cost Gloucester the game. The line-out was lost and in the ensuing scramble they conceded a penalty just inside the Saracens half. Their attempt was straight enough but probably 5 metres short.
Freddie Burns was outstanding as was Ollie Azam who played some great and intelligent rugby throughout the game
John Price 3/4/2010
What a great afternoon's entertainment, both teams played the ball through the hands, Saracens better than the Cherry & Whites, but it was the latter who through sheer guts, determination and bloody mindedness who won the day.
Probably the best game of rugby seen at Kingsholm this season, with many players producing fine performances; but it was a young man who a year ago was playing for Cinderford who stepped up to the mark and produced a match winning performance. Freddie Burns did not put a foot wrong scoring with every opportunity he was offered, swift of feet and hand a star for the future. A solid team performance, with a nail-biting finish.
Both teams played good attacking rugby which belied the soggy conditions. A vital 4 points which keeps alive the chances of Heineken Cup rugby for next season.
|Cherry and Whites confound the critics|
|Burns get his kicks|
Gloucester 29 Saracens 28
Kingsholm - Saturday 3 April 2010