Saracens shrug off salary cap shaming to succeed at Gloucester
Saracens overcame their troubled week to record a deserved 21-12 win over Gloucester at Kingsholm.
The London club were fined over £5million and deducted 35 points for breaching the salary cap but the team seemed unaffected as it was business as usual for the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions.
Nick Tompkins and Ben Earl scored tries for Saracens, with Manu Vunipola adding three penalties and a conversion.
Gloucester’s tries came from Tom Marshall and Lewis Ludlow as Billy Twelvetrees added a conversion.
Saracens were greeted with a chorus of boos as they took to the field, with a group of home fans in The Shed waving fake money.
When the game started, the first penalty went against the visitors and the award was met with a loud rendering of, ‘Same old Sarries, always cheating’, which persisted throughout.
A 50-metre burst from Jason Woodward and an excellent raking kick from Danny Cipriani were the main features of the opening 10 minutes, which Gloucester dominated, but despite the concession of three penalties the visitors’ defence held firm.
Saracens were able to relieve the pressure with an excellent 50-metre touch-finder from full-back Matt Gallagher and then had the first chance for points but Vunipola pushed his penalty attempt wide.
A knock-on from Fraser Balmain gave Saracens a platform in the opposition 22 and when Gloucester were penalised at the first scrum of the match, Vunipola gave his side the lead with a simple penalty.
That was the only score of an evenly contested first quarter but a poor cross-field kick from Cipriani soon gave Saracens another opportunity, which they took when Tompkins forced his way over from close range.
Gloucester responded with an excellent individual try from Marshall. Ben Morgan made 30 metres to put the defence on the back foot before scrappy passing saw the ball eventually reach Marshall.
He took his chance in style by evading one defender, chipping the full-back and then going on to win the race for the touchdown.
Cipriani missed the touchline conversion before two penalties in quick succession from Vunipola gave his side a 16-5 interval lead.
After the restart, Saracens lost prop Ralph Adams-Hale, who was stretchered off with a leg injury but they looked to overcome this setback when Nick Isiekwe finished off a driving line-out only for the TMO to rule it out for an obstruction.
It mattered little for almost immediately, Saracens had another line-out and this time they made no mistake to get Earl on the score sheet.
Gloucester made wholesale changes which paid dividends as it allowed them to dominate the final quarter and they were rewarded when Ludlow forced his way over, but the hosts could get no nearer.