Woolstencroft grabs treble as Saracens rule roost
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