Premiership: Saracens 41-39 Gloucester: Woolstencroft double and Farrell kick for Sarries win
|Saracens (20) 41|
|Try: Malins, Earl, Hallett, Woolstencroft 2 The inconvenients: Farrel 4, Daly Pens: Farrell 2|
|Gloucester (17) 39|
|Try: Rapava-Ruskin 2, Tuisue, Harris, Hastings The inconvenients: Hasting 4 Pens: Hastings 2|
Two tries from Tom Woolstencroft in the final five minutes and a superb spot-kick from Owen Farrell gave Saracens a thrilling win over Gloucester.
Sarries impressed early on, with Max Malins and Ben Earl both crossing, but tries from Val Rapava-Ruskin and Albert Tuisue kept the visitors in touch.
Gloucester’s mighty pack got scores from Fraser Balmain, Rapava-Ruskin and Adam Hastings for a 16-point lead.
But Josh Hallett and Woolstencroft tied the scores and Farrell sealed the win.
A second success for Sarries after two Premiership games this season looked highly unlikely despite a promising start which saw them play the most measured of rugby, but two wonderful sideline conversions from Farrell backed up Woolstencroft’s brace to break Gloucester and settle a captivating match.
England fly-half Farrell was key in both of their first-half tries, being involved twice as Malins crossed for the opener and then triggering a typical break for full-back Elliot Daly which led to the score single from Earl.
The visitors had stayed in touch thanks to prop Rapava-Ruskin’s scoring and trailed just three points at the break thanks to another close-range effort from Tuisue – his first for the club.
Sarries had no answer to the visitors’ power, precision and direct game plan after the break as three quick tries appeared to have put the Cherry & Whites on course for a second straight league win.
Gloucester’s relentless maul stood out as Balmain crossed followed by similar scores for Rapava-Ruskin and Hastings.
But as Saracens struggled to find their rhythm, substitute Hallett managed to regroup and the hosts then began to press on.
A kick from Hastings gave Gloucester a 12-point lead at 39-27 but replacement hooker Woolstencroft danced for a converted score to cut the lead to five points and then crossed after a maul with the last play of the match to give Farrell the chance to kick the winning points.
Mark McCall said Owen Farrell ‘lives for these moments’ after watching the Saracens captain launch back-to-back conversions in a dramatic 41-39 Gallagher Premiership win over Gloucester.
Trailing by 12 points going into the final 10 minutes, Saracens completed the second fightback of a rollercoaster clash at StoneX Stadium when replacement hooker Tom Woolstencroft completed two tries on lineouts.
Farrell needed to land both conversions from similar positions five yards from the touchline to secure victory and the England fly-half duly delivered, the second falling between the posts in the final act of the game.
Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall:
“I’m not sure we’d rather anyone else kick the ball. He’s done it time and time again. He lives for those moments. To have that competitive spirit on the pitch at this stage of the match is exactly what you want.
“We had a horrible period either side of the half where we conceded 26 points. The game was slipping away from us.
“Although we are really happy with the result at the end and the impact of the bench, there is probably more harm than good in the game.
“The way we got lost is something we’ll have to reflect on. We can’t be happy with the way we played in the first 50 minutes. Our rugby hasn’t been perfect in the last 20 minutes, far from it, but there was a different energy in the group. Overall, we have to be much better than that.”
Gloucester head coach George Skivington:
“I had packed my bags by then [when Farrell was lining up for the final kick of the game].
“I’m massively disappointed. I’m gutted. There’s no point in pretending I don’t feel sick for this one.
“The reality is that we had a 12-point lead with 15 minutes to go and we didn’t manage it well enough.
“There was a bit of desperation on their part, they had nothing to lose in the last 15 and they pushed their luck to the breaking point. That’s how it goes.”
Saracens: Daly; Malins, Lozowski, Taylor, Lewington; Farrell, Van Zyl; Mako Vunipola, George, Judge, McFarland, Tizard, Christie, Earl, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Mawi, Clarey, Hunter-Hill, Wray, De Haas, Manu Vunipola, Hallett.
Gloucester: Evans; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Atkinson, Thorley; Hastings, Meehan; Elrington, Singleton, Balmain, Clarke, Craig, Ackermann (captain), Taylor, Tuisue.
Replacements: Socino, Rapava-Ruskin, Ford-Robinson, Jordan, Reid, Chapman, Twelvetrees, Moyle.
Arbitrator: Craig Maxwell-Keys.