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Woolstencroft gets three in Sarries win

Ben Harris touched down for Saracens’ first try against Gloucester just before half-time
Saracens (14) 36
Tries: Harris, Woolstencroft 3, Whiteley Con: Vunipola Pens: Daly 2, Vunipola
Gloucester (10) 20
Tries: Varney, Walker, Rees-Zammit Con: Evans Pen: Evans

Tom Woolstencroft scored a hat-trick of push-over tries as Saracens secured a dominant 36-20 win over Gloucester.

Stephen Varney’s try put Gloucester 10-9 up late in the half, but Sarries led by half-time with a Ben Harris score.

Woolstencroft, captaining the home side, extended Sarries’ lead with two tries soon after the restart.

Henry Walker reduced the deficit but Woolstencroft added his third and Tom Whiteley got Saracens’ fifth, with Louis Rees-Zammit replying late on.

Gloucester stay eighth in the Premiership after a second loss in three games since the restart under new head coach George Skivington, while already-relegated Saracens stay bottom.

Both sides made 14 changes and left out many of their star names, but it was Gloucester’s only survivor from Friday’s loss to Bristol, Rees-Zammit, who almost got the first try after 10 minutes.

However, the Welshman lost the ball as he dived into the left corner under pressure from Whiteley after superb work to set him up by Jordy Reid.

Gloucester may well ask what might have been had that chance been taken and been added to by their actual first try when Varney cantered in after Mark Atkinson’s 34th-minute break.

But Harris responded for Saracens three minutes later as the former England Sevens player beat a couple of defenders to go in after Andy Christie did well to get hold of Whiteley’s kick.

Evans missed a penalty in first-half stoppage time that would have brought the teams within a single point.

Six minutes into the second period, Saracens’ skipper for the day Woolstencroft got on the end of two driving mauls from line-outs in a three-minute spell to open up an 16-point gap.

Saracens began to dominate the scrum, but to Gloucester’s credit they dragged their way back into it as Walker found a gap in the Saracens defence after a flowing move with 19 minutes left to go within nine points of their hosts.

But again Gloucester conceded within three minutes of scoring, this time a penalty on their own try line allowed Sarries to kick to touch and Woolstencroft completed his hat-trick of tries in similar fashion to his first two scores.

More forward power from the hosts created the space for their final try as Will Hooley’s kick through the defence was fumbled by Charlie Sharples and Whiteley gratefully dotted down.

But Rees-Zammit again showed why he is one of the Premiership’s hottest properties in stoppage time as the 19-year-old got hold of the ball in his own 22 and raced the length of the field to put a small bit of gloss on a disappointing showing.

Saracens: Hooley; Harris, Daly, Socino, Obatoyinbo; Vunipola, Whiteley; Barrington, Woolstencroft (capt), Clarey, Kpoku, Swinson, Clark, Reffell, Christie.

Replacements: Pifeleti, Crean, Ibuanokpe, Boon, Venter, Day, Sloan, Watson.

Gloucester: Sharples; Banahan, Trinder, Atkinson (capt), Rees-Zammit; Evans, Varney; Mulipola, Marais, Ford-Robinson, Beckett, Drake, Gray, Reid, Clement.

Replacements: Walker, Fourie, Knight, Jordan, Howard, Chapman, Barton, Seabrook.

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