Morgan brace helps Gloucester beat Premiership leaders
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Ben Morgan put in a monumental performance with a match-winning double as Gloucester cemented their status as Premiership contenders by downing league leaders Saracens 30-24.
Morgan grabbed a try in each half while Ed Slater also went over as the in-form Cherry & Whites downed the table toppers for the second week in succession – they beat previous leaders Exeter Chiefs last Friday as well.
In typical Sarries fashion they fought their way back to a 30-24 margin at the death, showing champion spirit and stealing a bonus point through Jackson Wray’s score that could prove consequential down the line.
Gloucester looked sharp early on in the first half, going close inside two minutes with the line at Tom Marshall’s mercy before the ball was fumbled and the winger was forced into touch.
Despite an early miss, Billy Twelvetrees had clearly brought his kicking boots as the centre slotted three penalties as Gloucester piled on the pressure, testing Saracens’ discipline.
Saracens had their moments in the first half but were contained to a single Alex Lozowski penalty.
And the hosts finally found a well-constructed try after 22 minutes, Morgan placing the ball hand perfectly against the post as the half ended 16-3.
Gloucester kept applying pressure after the break camping in the Saracens 22 until Slater finally crashed over as the black wall finally cracked.
Apart from a Michael Rhodes score from close range around the 60-minute mark, the story of the second half was Gloucester patience when it mattered. And Morgan put the cherry on top of his Man of the Match performance with a second try to put the match beyond the visitors.
But Gloucester took their foot off the gas for the last ten minutes. The league leaders were typically competitive right to the death. Matt Gallagher pinching a try in the final ten and Wray finding a gap as the clock went red.
30-24 at the final whistle and a statement of intent from the Cherry and Whites that they can, and have, beaten the best this league has to offer.
Tries: Morgan 2, Slater
Cons: Twelvetrees 3
Pens: Twelvetrees 3
Tries: Rhodes, Gallagher, Wray
Cons: Lozowski 3
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Banahan.
Saracens: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 David Strettle, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Mike Rhodes, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Dom Day, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Max Malins, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald, Peter Allan
TMO: Trevor Fisher