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Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Sunday, 27 September 2009 16:51 UK

Saracens 19-16 Gloucester

Saracens (9) 19
Try: Brits Con: Jackson Drop-goal: Jackson Pens: Jackson 3
Gloucester (13) 16
Try: Lawson Con: Robinson Pen: Robinson 3

Gloucesters Nicky Robinson is tackled by Mouritz Botha and Justin Marshall
Saracens trailed Gloucester until the final 13 minutes

Saracens climbed to the top of the Guinness Premiership table after condemning Gloucester to a third consecutive defeat.

Gloucester had led from the second minute until the 67th minute, but a try from replacement hooker Schalk Brits put Saracens in front when it mattered.

Rory Lawson's opportunistic early score gave Gloucester the lead, and they took a 13-9 advantage into the break.

But Saracens, helped by Glen Jackson's 14 points, did enough to claim the win.

Gloucester fly-half Nicky Robinson had a last-gasp attempt to earn a draw but his drop-goal effort missed the target, meaning his side had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Saracens, back at Vicarage Road after "home" matches at Twickenham and Wembley, made an inauspicious start to the match with Alasdair Strokosch stealing their ball at the line-out before Lawson darted through to score.

And when England captain Steve Borthwick departed after only 13 minutes because of a nasty gash to his head, Saracens were up against it.


Saracens were sticking to the tactic of pressurising Gloucester with an aerial bombardment, and it proved effective as the visitors twice failed to deal with high balls and were punished both times by Jackson penalties.

Robinson kicked Gloucester 10-6 up before the two goalkickers exchanged further penalties in the run-up to the break.

It was an uninspiring game, peppered with aimless kicking and a paucity of attacking invention, and Lawson's sin-binning - Gloucester's fifth of the season - seemed par for the course.

Jackson missed the resulting penalty but opened the second half with a drop-goal, only for Robinson to once again reply with a penalty.

A rare moment of excitement came when Lesley Vainikolo's powerful run attracted numerous defenders, and his offload put Robinson into space - but Saracens' Alex Goode tracked back to bundle the fly-half into touch just short of the line.

Saracens seemed determined to kick the leather off the ball, and a lengthy period of aerial ping-pong drew a response of jeers, whistles and slow handclaps from their own supporters.

Replacement Justin Marshall helped add some direction, and his promptings paved the way for Brits to barge over for the try that gave Sarries the lead.

Gloucester engineered a chance to snatch the draw but Robinson's drop-goal attempt was wide of the mark.

Saracens head coach Mark McCall:

"We're under no illusions that we're playing the best rugby in the league.

"But this is a brand new squad that we've got and we've made ourselves unbelievably competitive.

"It is important we continue to win but everyone in the changing room knows we can improve."

Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath:

"I thought we had done enough to win the game.

"We put a huge amount in but didn't get a huge amount out of it."

Saracens: Goode; Cato, Ratuvou, Barritt, Wyles; Jackson, de Kock; Gill, Ongaro, Nieto, Borthwick, Botha, van Heerden, Saull, Joubert.
Replacements: Haughton for Cato (64), Marshall for de Kock (63), Aguero for Gill (49), Brits for Ongaro (49), Skuse for Nieto (49), Vyvyan for Borthwick (12), Owen for Saull (63).
Not Used: Hougaard.

Gloucester: Voyce; Simpson-Daniel, Tindall, Molenaar, Vainikolo; Robinson, R Lawson; Dickinson, Azam, Doran-Jones, Buxton, Brown, Strokosch, Qera, Eustace.
Replacements: Sharples for Tindall (75), S Lawson for Azam (57), Capdevielle for Doran-Jones (53), Hazell for Qera (53).
Not Used: Knight, Satala, Lewis, Burns.

Sin Bin: R Lawson (37).

Att: 7,777

Ref: Martain Fox (RFU).

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see also
Borthwick escapes serious injury
28 Sep 09 |  English
Guscott's predictions
26 Sep 09 |  English
Rugby union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Borthwick 'will be fit for Tests'
21 Sep 09 |  English
Harlequins 9-22 Saracens
19 Sep 09 |  Rugby Union
Gloucester 14-27 Northampton
19 Sep 09 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union on the BBC
05 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union

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