Wool­s­ten­croft grabs tre­ble as Sara­cens rule roost

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - By Ben Coles

Sara­cens’ squad depth shone through as the hosts recorded a bonus-point win while rest­ing a num­ber of front-line play­ers, apart from El­liot Daly, who went off in­jured.

Daly played less than 50 min­utes, knock­ing over two long-range penal­ties in the first half, against a Glouces­ter side boast­ing enough ex­pe­ri­ence in the front row and across the back line to sug­gest they could pick up a first win away at Sara­cens since 2008.

“[Daly] just had a lit­tle knee in the back. He has other games we want to play him in, so it seemed sen­si­ble to take him off,” said Mark McCall, Sara­cens di­rec­tor of rugby.

Sara­cens fielded the side set to play the bulk of their Cham­pi­onship cam­paign next sea­son, as cap­tain Tom Wool­s­ten­croft grabbed a hat-trick of rolling-maul tries. McCall said: “We ex­posed a num­ber of our younger play­ers – eight of the 23 were in the same Sara­cens Un­der-18 team a few years back – and we have high hopes for them.”

Glouces­ter’s teenage scrum-half Stephen Var­ney, who scored last Fri­day against Bris­tol, also grabbed the first try here, with a one-two from cen­tres Henry Trinder and Mark Atkin­son cut­ting Sara­cens open and Var­ney on hand to fin­ish.

Sara­cens in­stantly replied with a try for for­mer Eng­land Sev­ens player Ben Har­ris on his de­but with Tom White­ley’s box-kick won in the air by Andy Christie, beat­ing Louis Rees-Zam­mit, be­fore feed­ing Har­ris to race away for the cor­ner as Sara­cens led 14-10 at the break.

And the home side piled on the pres­sure at the start of the sec­ond half as Glouces­ter had no an­swer to Sara­cens’ maul, Wool­s­ten­croft crash­ing over for two tries stem­ming from suc­ces­sive line-outs deep in Glouces­ter’s 22, killing off the con­test. Re­place­ment hooker Henry Walker scored for Glouces­ter, only for Wool­s­ten­croft to fire back up the other end to com­plete his hat-trick.

White­ley then fin­ished off a Will Hoo­ley cross-field kick to com­plete the rout, with Rees-Zam­mit’s glid­ing fin­ish down the wing com­ing all too late. “I’m def­i­nitely dis­ap­pointed in that area and the boys are as well,” said George Skiv­ing­ton, the Glouces­ter head coach, re­gard­ing their maul de­fence. “That was high­lighted as a se­ri­ous weak­ness – we will have to look at who was do­ing their job and who didn’t.”

Star role: Tom Wool­s­ten­croft of Sara­cens notches the sec­ond try of his hat-trick

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