Premiership: Gloucester 8-29 Saracens

Alex Goode scores for Saracens

GLOUCESTER (3) 8

Try:
Cox
Pen:
Twelvetrees

SARACENS (19) 29

Tries:
De Kock, Strettle, Goode
Con:
Farrell
Pens:
Farrell 4

Saracens produced a dominant display to beat Gloucester and return to the top of the Premiership table.

Tries from Neil de Kock and David Strettle and a hat-trick of penalties by Owen Farrell helped Sarries towards an imposing 19-3 half-time advantage.

Alex Goode touched down shortly after the break to extend the lead to 23.

Saracens had Billy Vunipola and Steve Borthwick yellow-carded and Matt Cox went over for Gloucester but the visitors were good value for their win.

The result means Sarries, who were knocked off top spot following Northampton's win over Harlequins on Friday, return to the summit having won six Premiership matches in a row.

Gloucester, meanwhile, continue to stutter in the league despite successive victories during the Christmas period easing any lingering relegation concerns.

Although those back-to-back wins over London Irish and Worcester will have boosted confidence around Kingsholm, the Cherry and Whites got off to a nightmare start against a side in ruthless form.

Scrum-half Jimmy Cowan was sin-binned for illegally stopping Mako Vunipola's charge towards the try-line with less than five minutes gone, and Farrell easily slotted over the resulting penalty.

Saracens further made their numerical advantage count through De Kock's first Premiership try in almost two years, the half-back having been set up by Schalk Brits following a driving maul.

Farrell added another penalty and, despite Cowan's return to the field, the visitors ran in a second try after a sweeping move from right to left allowed Brits to this time tee up Strettle for a simple finish.

Billy Twelvetrees' penalty moments before the break reduced the arrears to 16 going into half-time, but the Sarries pack had been dominant throughout and started the second half in the same manner as they did the first.

Having again tormented their hosts at the scrum, Saracens moved the ball across to Goode and the full-back touched down in the corner.

Gloucester were given renewed hope, however, when two visiting players were sent to the sin-bin in the space of three second-half minutes - first Vunipola for an infringement with Gloucester homing in on their try-line, and then captain Borthwick at the line-out from the resulting penalty.

But Sarries wrestled possession back at the scrum and, having worked the ball back up the field, the 13 men extended their lead further through Farrell's fourth penalty of the afternoon.

Gloucester registered a consolation try when Cox squeezed the ball over following a drive by the Cherry and Whites pack, and the hosts had the better of the final five minutes to leave the victorious Saracens perhaps a little frustrated at not securing a bonus point.

VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:

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Post-match: Gloucester boss Davies

"We knew what was coming - the game was obviously lost in that first half.

"Saracens are a side that, if you're not accurate with your game and there are weaknesses in your game, they will find you out.

"What is important for my team and players individually is that we learn these lessons, but it's not just about learning them this week, it's about continuing to put those lessons into our preparation and the level of execution that we need to get to."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:

"I think the first 30 minutes was as good as we've been in terms of our overall game. Our set-piece was dominant, our kicking game and intensity were at a high level, and we combined that with some really good rugby as well.

"To be 19-0 up away from home against Gloucester takes a bit of doing. It was a great performance.

"To back up the Leicester performance [before Christmas] with two away wins like we've done against Worcester and Gloucester tells you a lot about the culture and togetherness at the club. We are in a good place at the moment."

SATURDAY'S LINE-UPS

Gloucester: Cook, Sharples, Tindall, Twelvetrees, May, F. Burns, Cowan, Wood, Edmonds, Puafisi, Stooke, Hudson, Cox, Kvesic, B. Morgan.

Replacements: Robson for Cowan (55), M. Thomas for Wood (75), Dawidiuk for Edmonds (45), Knight for Puafisi (45), James for Stooke (63), G. Evans for B. Morgan (64). Not Used: Y. Thomas, Monahan.

Sin Bin: Cowan (4).

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Bosch, Barritt, Strettle, Farrell, De Kock, M. Vunipola, Brits, Johnston, Borthwick, Hargreaves, Wray, Brown, B. Vunipola.

Replacements: Wyles for Strettle (69), Hodgson for Farrell (71), Wigglesworth for de Kock (15), Gill for M. Vunipola (62), George for Brits (63), Stevens for Johnston (55), Botha for Hargreaves (69), Melck for Brown (67).

Sin Bin: B. Vunipola (55), Borthwick (57).

Ref: Luke Pearce (RFU).

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