|Gloucester: (5) 15|
|trying to: Singleton, Reese-Zamit Cons: Twelve trees handle: Hastings|
|Saracens (16) 44|
|trying to: Davis, Itohe, Tompkins, George, Taylor Cons: Trout 5 Handles: Trout 3|
The Saracens reached the semifinals of the European Cup with a decisive victory over Gloucester.
Three penalties by England captain Owen Farrell and the attempts of Aled Davis gave the Saracens an advantage in the break with a score of 16-5, and Jack Singleton moved to Gloucester.
In the second half, the Saracens went through Maro Itohe, Nick Tompkins and Jamie George.
Duncan Taylor’s interception ended Sarris ’dominance before Louis Reese-Zamit scored a late consolation.
Gloucester came out into the match, winning four of their last five home relegation matches in this tournament, and the Welsh Reese-Zamit winger has been a few inches from the perfect start, barely extending his own shot.
To the great horror of the Kingsholm crowd, it was as close as “Cherry and White” reached the Saracen attempts for most of the half.
Trout scored a penalty, his first of 100% of the record in front of the bars, on the night he scored 19 points. Prop Vincent Koch punched a hole in the Gloucester line, ran on acres of space and walked over to Davis to jump under the pillars.
The ruthlessness of the Saracens shone through as they dominated the breakdown and stopped Gloucester’s normally effective strike. The home side’s penalty shootout increased, and things got worse when Oli Torley, who appeared for the 100th time, was sent to the synch-boon for a high roll.
When Torley returned, the Saracens saw English rapper George get a yellow card for his own high roll, and Gloucester took advantage to get their first points on the board, finally moving on a fourth out-of-line attempt to get Singleton to score.
After the break, there was a flash of return as Hastings ’penalties led Gloucester to eight points. However, this was immediately extinguished when Itohe scored at close range, as the Saracens made almost every visit to Gloucester 22.
With the support of Val Rapov-Ruskin, next in the dump, Tompkins scored Sarris’ third attempt, and George followed him when the Saracens played with Gloucester in their own game and launched powerful strikes.
Taylor put the icing on the cake, snatching the pass, and while Rizza-Zamit’s late attempt was stylish when he chased and got his own kick from his half, Gloucester was better in every area across the field.
The three-time Saracen Champions Cup winners reach the next European final of four, however, this time in the second-level Challenge Cup, and meet the winner of Sunday’s match between Toulon and the London Irish.
Meanwhile, Gloucester will turn their full attention to the Premier League, knowing that on the last day of the season they will face the Saracens again.
Gloucester head coach George Skyington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
“Obviously the number isn’t very commendable, but it gives us a good checkpoint to see where we are with a few areas.
“I thought we made it easier for them in the second half, to be honest, with the number of penalties we played. I think they came from a good place, I think the guys tried to put us on the right foot but we gave them three penalties at once from the beginning.
“There’s a lot to learn, we’re moving away from that, I thought they were very, very good, they’re very good. And we’re definitely going to get good lessons tonight.”
Saracen Rugby Director Mark McCall:
“It was a big step forward from where we were. The atmosphere was great and very different from the game at Worcester last week.
“Most of the areas of our game were really strong and we generally took advantage when we created opportunities.
“Inevitably good players enjoy great knockout games. Billy Wunipola spent an incredible first 15-20 minutes as he owned the ball at a different level.
“Big Maro (Itohe) is back to his best, and Owen Farrell has led the team magnificently.
“The next two weeks are a crucial part of the season. We have a tough semi-final in Europe and then a home game against Northampton that we need to win to secure the home semi-final in the playoffs.”
Gloucester: Carreras; Reese-Zamit, Harris, Atkinson, Torley; Hastings, Chapman; Rapova-Ruskin, Singleton, Balman; Clark, Alemanna, Reed, Ludlow (Captain); Morgan
Replacements: Socin, Elrington, Ford Robinson, Davidson, Clement, Michan, Twelve Tris, Seabrook
Basket for sin: Torley (16), Rapovo-Ruskin (49)
Saracens: Good; Shogun, Daly, Tompkins, Maitland; Farrell (Captain), Davis; Mavi, George, Koch; Itoge, Swinson, McFarland, Earl; B. Unipole
Replacements: Pifeletti, Barrington, Claire, Izikwe, Christie, Van Zyl, Taylor, Lazowski
Basket for sin: Jamie George (25)
Judge: Frank Murphy (Ireland)