HARD FOUGHT BATTLE resulted in a win for an under-strength Gloucester
team over a near full-strength
Saracens side who had won their last three games, whereas the home side
had lost their last two succesive matches.
The Cherry and Whites were without their England players to add to the
growing injury list but in marked contrast Sarries have lost no players
because of international duties.
Surely it is high time that no Guinness Premiership fixtures are scheduled
on international dates.
The rugby season is plenty long enough to allow for a complete restructuring
of the fixture list. If only Premier Rugby with the R.F.U, could get their
act together and get rid of unwanted play-offs plus irrelevant cup matches
and influence the Celtic nations to embrace change to the Six Nations’
On the pitch, despite losing three players to the sin-bin, Gloucester
deserved their win over a Saracens’ side who rarely looked like scoring
a try and if only the home side had applied a more ruthless clinical attitude
the Watford side would have been buried by half time.
By way of a change Gloucester made an enterprising start and applied early
pressure which enabled full back Willie Walker to slot a penalty as the
visitors were pinned in their own half for long periods.
there were no fireworks on the pitch, Ryan Lamb did display his unique
brand of inventiveness to go some way to make up for his disappointments
against Agen last week and was on hand to set up the vastly improved Rudi
Keil for the opening unconverted try.
Richard Haughton was the first to receive a yellow card as the visitors
continued to infringe to the displeasure of referee David Rose and Walker
duly kicked the penalty.
Glen Jackson did put a Sarries’ score on the board with a penalty before
Lamb again showed his vision and awareness as he sent Keil through a misaligned
defence for his second try which Walker added the conversion to take the
lead to 18-3.
You sensed that if Gloucester could get another quick try that would put
paid to the opposition but it was not to be.
Adam Eustace was sin-binned and Jackson kicked the resultant penalty before
Gloucester’s troubles deepened when Keil was also yellow carded for taking
out Dan Scarborough in the air and Jackson added another before the interval
break with the score at 18-9.
Saracens were allowed to come back into the game as the second half progressed
with more possession and the trusty boot of Jackson took them to within
six points of the Gloucester score at 18-12.
Luke Narraway and Peter Buxton performed Herculean efforts but the game
was not safe with such a narrow margin and Dean Ryan made some key changes.
twenty minutes remaining Lamb was replaced by Ludovic Mercier as the home
side battled to gain territory and possession.
Saracens were penalised wide out on the right and Ludo had the task of
putting Gloucester more firmly in the lead and he made no mistake as he
kicked the goal to ease the situation.
Somewhat belatedly Patrice Colllazo and Ollie Azam were introduced to
the fray for the final ten minutes and Saracens never looked like scoring
twice to steal the match.
However there was still time for James Bailey to end up in the bin but
although former England international rugby league star Andy Farrell was
introduced by Saracens the game was up for the men from Watford.
No bonus point but another welcome win with some encouraging signs for
the Cherry and Whites for whom scrum half Rory Lawson had his best performance
Considering the total number of top players missing it was almost a satisfactory
show but Gloucester made hard work of it and it is good to learn that
the experienced Mike Tindall is very close to regaining match fitness—his
guiding hand is needed behind the scrum.
J.Bailey, H.Keil, J.Adams, J.Simpson-Daniel
R.Lamb rep. L.Mercier, R.Lawson
N.Wood rep. P.Collazo, M.Davies (rep.O.Azam), C.Nieto
M.Bortolami (C), A.Eustace rep.J.Pendlebury,
P.Buxton , L.Narraway, A.Balding
Referee: - David Rose
Attendance - 10,052