Gloucester get back on track
November 16, 2008
Gloucester's Ryan Lamb leaves the Saracens defence in his wake
© Getty Images
Gloucester got their Premiership title challenge back on track with a 25-21 victory over Saracens at Vicarage Road.
Anthony Allen and Olly Morgan returned with a bang to resume their quest for an England shirt. Allen, absent from the Gloucester line-up since injuring his ankle against Leicester on the opening day, crossed to set Dean Ryan's men on their way before Morgan burst clear in the second half to put the visitors clear.
Ryan Lamb and Glen Jackson had exchanged kicks before Allen crossed, and although Ben Skirving pegged the visitors back, Morgan, returning from a hamstring injury, gave Martin Johnson something to consider as he broke decisively to score.
Lesley Vainikolo extended the advantage and although Eddie Jones' men hit back with a penalty try to set up a grandstand finish, they could not prevent their first home Premiership defeat of the season. Lamb should have kicked Gloucester ahead in the second minute from 20 yards, but he thudded his penalty attempt into the left upright.
Hugh Vyvyan's knock-on allowed Lamb to make quick amends and slot the visitors 3-0 ahead. Within a minute Lamb had struck the upright again from out on the right, but after Vyvyan was sent to the sin-bin the 22-year-old fly-half doubled the advantage.
Glen Jackson replied with a penalty of his own on 19 minutes, but three minutes later Gloucester switched from left to right where Vainikolo found the returning Allen who squeezed down in the corner. Lamb threaded the extras from tight on the touchline as Vyvyan returned with his side 13-3 down.
With the hosts under heavy pressure a hopeful punt forward ran awkwardly for Morgan and after the ball was recycled Skirving crashed over to reduce the deficit heading into the interval. Just 30 seconds after the restart a flowing Saracens move resulted in Jackson, the Premiership's leading points scorer, adding three more to his tally to drag the hosts back into contention.
But with Saracens threatening to turn the game on its head, Gloucester skipper Mike Tindall found full-back Morgan in full flight and the 23-year-old sprinted 30 yards to pull the Cherry and Whites clear. Jones threw on South African World Cup-winning debutant Wikus Van Heerden but Vainikolo enhanced his own chances of an international recall as he collected Lamb's 62nd minute cross-field kick to jog in under the posts.
Jackson soon threaded a penalty before Saracens were awarded a penalty try after they were camped for four phases on the Gloucester line. But with the clock ticking the hosts were unable to turn pressure into all-important points.
Saracens: Goode, Sorrell, Powell, A. Farrell, Cato, Jackson, de Kock, Lloyd, Cairns, Visagie, Chesney, Vyvyan, Skirving, Saull, Owen.
Replacements: Barritt for A. Farrell (51), Mercey for Visagie (70), Ryder for Chesney (54), van Heerden for Skirving (54). Not Used: Kyriacou, Wilson, Thrower.
Sin Bin: Vyvyan (17).
Gloucester: Morgan, Balshaw, Tindall, Allen, Vainikolo, Lamb, Lewis, Wood, Azam, Forster, James, Brown, Buxton, Satala, Strokosch.
Replacements: Barkley for Allen (63), Eustace for James (58). Not Used: S. Lawson, Young, Titterrell, Cooper, Watkins.
Ref: Sean Davey (RFU).
"When Mike Burton was sent off I thought the world had gone crazy - just Pommy bashing, hitting anyone." Behind the Rose heads back to 1975
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes