Sunday 18 February 2007
Vicarage Road, Watford

Another slip-up away from 'Holm
Last gasp agony
Saracens 24 Gloucester 22

DISAPPOINTMENT AGAIN for the Cherry and Whites, as once more they were beaten in the final minutes, as this time Saracens came from behind to score and snatch the win.
Frustratingly, three of the last four Premiership matches played away from Kingsholm have seen Gloucester lose in the final minutes, when a win seemed most likely.
The losses have cost the club dear, as Bristol, Sale and now Saracens have all profited, with just losing bonus points from Gloucesterís trips to show at the end of these close encounters.
The inability to close out tight games on the road may ultimately cost the Cherry and Whites a play-off place, whereas Bristol look to have conned their way to another victory.
It always seemed likely to be a close affair with on-form Saracens having won their last five home games and so it turned out in a scrappy game.
With the benefit of hind-sight, on-form centre Mike Tindall was sorely missed behind the scrum for Gloucester but it must be also said that the visitors were never able to totally dominate the tight exchanges for long periods throughout the game.
Both possession and territory were limited in the first half and although Gloucester were able to exert some second half pressure through driving play it did not bring the vital try that would have made the game safe.
After a long time out, Ludovic Mercier had a very good game as his confidence grew and finished with a personal haul of 17 points from a 100% kicking tally.
The pick of the pack had to be Alex Brown who gained a first half try, he was as efficient as ever in the line out and pulled off some big tackles in the loose. Another of Englandís forgotten men.
Saracens opened the scoring after only six minutes when full back Dan Scarborough made a break for Fijian winger Ratuvou to score. Glen Jackson missed the conversion, then kicked a penalty but he missed two simple penalties shortly afterwards before Gloucester managed to launch a meaningful attack.
Andy Hazell seized upon a sloppy Sarriesí line out and the ball was taken on before Ludo provided a sharp reverse pass as he was tackled for Alex Brown to cross for the try which Ludo duly converted to narrow the gap to 8-7.
Gloucester then suffered a real blow as Anthony Allen was laid out for a long time after an attempted tackle and was replaced by Jack Adams.
Ludo kicked Gloucester into the lead with a simple kick before James Forrester was yellow carded and Jackson added a penalty kick but Ludo was on target to make the half time score 11-13 in the visitorís favour.
The second half saw more of the same as the forwards battled it out and Jackson and Mercier traded penalties but Gloucester's lead remained.
A period of intense pressure on the Sarriesí line brought only a successful penalty when their hooker Ongaro was sin-binned. The thought was that if Gloucester had managed to score a try at that time it could well have settled the match but it was not to be.
The substitutions were made as the time slowly ebbed away and with a slender lead it looked like Gloucester would just hang on in the face of mounting attacks from the home side.
An attack seemed to have broken down when Sarries knocked the ball on but it went un-punished by referee Rob Debney and ended up with a line out to the home side rather than a scrum to Gloucester.
Gloucester eventually ran out of cover as flanker Chesney finally scored with the time counting down to the final seconds.
Jackson held his nerve to convert from wide out and steal the result from the Cherry and Whites.
A bitter pill to swallow but Gloucester were not at their best and ended up second best.
T.H.- 19/2/2007
P.S. They tell me England's Andy Farrell played for Saracens. - TH

Saracens shots

Pricey's Postscript -
I saw Dean Ryan remonstrating with Roy Maybank, Sunday's fourth official towards the end of the game at Vicarage Road and now having read the press reports I now understand what it was all about. So the referee cost us the game, did he?
One borderline call from him and we lost, did we? Come on Dean, stop behaving like soccer coach and look at the other 78 minutes of Sunday's game.
We lost because we couldn't break clear of an average Saracens XV.
We were bereft of ideas behind the scrum and had no possession worth mentioning until the second half.
Games should not be lost in the last 2 minutes but won in the first 78!

J.G.P 19/2/2007

Gloucester Scorers -
Try: Brown. Conversion : Mercier. Penalties: Mercier (5)
H/T 13-11
Olly Morgan;
James Bailey, Rudi Keil, Anthony Allen rep. Jack Adams, Mark Foster,
Ludovic Mercier, Rory Lawson;
Christian Califano rep. Nick Wood, Olivier Azam rep. Mefin Davies, Carlos Nieto,
Will James rep. Marco Bortolam, Alex Brown,
Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell rep. Jake Boer, James Forrester rep. .Jon Goodridge

Yellow Card - James Forrester

Referee: -Rob Debney
Attendance - 8,452