Saracens hang on to beat Gloucester 25-12 despite playing more than 50 minutes with 14 me
Sarries Schalk Brits saw red in the first half for a punch
The hosts held on to lead 13-6 at the break thanks to Ben Ransom’s try and eight points from the boot of Charlie Hodgson
Four penalties from Hodgson after the restart took the fly-half’s total to 20 and secured the win
James Hook kicked all of the Cherry and Whites points
Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens hung on to beat Gloucester at Allianz Park on Saturday, despite playing more than 50 minutes with 14 men.
Ben Ransom had given the hosts the ideal start with a try inside four minutes. However, the north London side had a tough second half ahead with only 14 men after Schalk Brits saw red for a punch on Nick Wood. Nevertheless, Saracens did lead 13-6 at half-time with two James Hook penalties keeping Gloucester within touching distance.
Saracens, who had never lost successive games at Allianz Park, though actually extended their lead to 25-12 in the second half with Hodgson knocking over four further penalties to take his total for the day to 20 points from the tee.
Saracens boss Mark McCall wanted a reaction from his side following the battering they received from Wasps last week, and they made the best possible start to the game when Ben Ransom dotted down their opening try after just four minutes with Hodgson converting to give the hosts a seven-point lead.
The game lost its early momentum with te visitors being handed a lifeline as Sarries Brad Barritt was yellow carded after 23 minutes for a tip-tackle on Gloucester’s Ross Moriarty.
The Cherry and Whites though could not take advantage with Hook and Hodgson trading penalty’s, meaning the hosts retained their seven-point advantage.
However, just before the centre returned to the action, hooker Brits was dismissed on the half-hour after landing a punch to Gloucester’s Nick Wood.
Hook then knocked over a penalty soon after for the Cherry and Whites to reduce the deficit to just four points but Hodgson replied with a kick of his own to re-establish Sarries seven-point lead heading into half-time, 13-6.
From the restart, Gloucester pulled themselves back to within a try of their opponents through Hook’s third penalty of the match. Both sides traded penalties as the home team struck first through Hodgson, having been frustrated in their attempts to score a try. Almost immediately though, the Cherry and Whites’ James Hook hit home his fourth penalty of the day, leaving it all to play for. The kicking game continued, and that seven-point gap was opened up yet again as Hodgson made no mistake from the tee, before the same man made it 22-12, all but handing Saracens a hard-fought victory.
Both sides traded penalties as the home team struck first through Hodgson, having been frustrated in their attempts to score a try. Almost immediately though, the Cherry and Whites’ James Hook hit home his fourth penalty of the day, leaving it all to play for.
The kicking game continued, and that seven-point gap was opened up yet again as Hodgson made no mistake from the tee, before the same man made it 22-12, all but handing Saracens a hard-fought victory.
Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Jacques Burger, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Marcelo Bosch
Gloucester: 15 Billy Burns, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Steve McColl, 10 James Hook, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Nick Wood
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Rob Cook
Date: Saturday, February 20
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Rowan Kitt