18 November 2000
Hard work to hang on for win
Gloucester 16 Saracens 6

FOR THE SECOND WEEK RUNNING Gloucester managed only a single try and were unable to add to their first half score.
Unlike the previous match against Leicester in the Tetley’s Bitter Cup, this time the Cherry and Whites managed to scrape the narrowest of wins. It was very much a close run thing as the table topping London side whittled away at their halftime deficit of 16-3 to come so close salvaging the match.
Much too close for Gloucester’s comfort but finally Saracens had to settle for the single bonus point to keep them in Premiership pole position. Gloucester have lost their first two home games of the season to Sale and Bath by the narrowest of margins but this time they just edged the victory. If the Cherry and Whites had lost they would have only themselves to blame as mistakes and missed opportunities almost cost them the match.
In the first fixture of the season at Vicarage Road, Gloucester were short of several key players because of injury and were well beaten. Now it is the turn of the Watford outfit to cope with a similar situation.
Long term injuries to star signing Thomas Castaignede and Kevin Sorrell have come at an awkward time with autumn international matches in this month’s calendar so Messrs Bracken, Hill, Luger and Grewcock are conspicuous by their absence. Saracens loss merely serves to illustrate the nonsensical structure of the domestic season to accommodate the revenue raising events at Twickenham.
Although Byron Hayward missed an early penalty attempt he made amends with his next kick. The Cherry and Whites kept up the pressure with eye-catching flanker very much to the fore. Terry Fanolua missed a scoring chance before Gloucester’s other winger Tom Beim worked a lovely angle to score under the posts. The conversion put Gloucester well on top and all Saracens had to show for their efforts was a solitary penalty kick from fly half Duncan McRae.
Stefan Sanchez was sin-binned but crucially Saracens were unable to take advantage and add to their score in the period before half time.

Instead it was Byron Hayward who added two more penalties eased the home side into an interval lead of 16-3 -it should have been more but for missed chances.
The second half was a different matter as Sarries worked themselves back into contention. Gloucester were forced to manage with less possession and brought their replacements into the fray but their momentum subsided. In contrast Saracens’ understudies started to respond.
Lock forward Kieran Roche twice secured line out ball to set up old hand Ireland prop Paul Wallace who burrowed over from close range to claim two tries. Fortunately for the home crowd, Duncan McRae was only on target with one of his kicks so the Shedheads breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Sarcens could have snatched victory through Aussie centre Tim Horan who looked set to score but pulled up with an injury and the opportunity was missed. Horan looked far from match fitness but in contrast his Australian compatriot Jason Little looked sharper than his former team mate.
The result was what Gloucester wanted but not quite how it should have been.
Too many chances missed in the first half and too few chances in the second resulted in the nail biting nerve wracking finish but at least it was a win. If only just.