Saracens snuff out Gloucester with ruthless semi-final performance

Charlie Morgan
Nick Tompkins scored a second-half hat-trick as Saracens stretched away - PA

  • Saracens 44 Gloucester 19

3:20PM

"We try to get to a point where nothing will drain our energy"

Credit: BT Sport

 Nick Tompkins articulates Saracens' gameplan so nicely.

3:17PM

Full-time | Saracens 44 Gloucester 19

Luke Pearce ends the game. It was a brutally efficient performance from Saracens. Gloucester scored early on but were then snuffed out. The reigning champions book their trip to Twickenham in some style.

3:15PM

Saracens 44 Gloucester 19, 79 minutes   

Christian Judge gets over the ball to win a penalty and suffocate another Gloucester attack.

3:14PM

Man of the match

Ben Spencer gets the official gong from BT Sport's Ugo Monye.

Credit: BT Sport

3:13PM

Saracens 44 Gloucester 19, 76 minutes  

Strong spell for Gloucester with Dreyer making another midfield break but then Twelvetrees spills on the edge of Saracens' 22. 

3:11PM

Match action

Here's Tompkins' hat-trick try.

3:09PM

Saracens 44 Gloucester 19, 73 minutes 

Gloucester kick into touch but mess up the maul set-up. 

3:08PM

Saracens 44 Gloucester 19, 69 minutes

Gloucester win a defiant maul turnover and Atkinson and Twelvetrees combine again from the scrum. Cipriani threads through a neat grubber, boxing in Alex Goode...but the Saracens full-back dances away from two Gloucester chasers quite brilliantly.

3:02PM

Try, Lewis Ludlow! Saracens 44 Gloucester 19, 67 minutes

It's that move again! Atkinson throws the short ball to Twelvetrees this time, who offloads to his back-rower. Ludlow holds off Farrell to score.

2:59PM

Saracens 44 Gloucester 14, 65 minutes 

On comes David Strettle, replacing Williams. Joe Gray is on for Jamie George as well.

2:56PM

The record is still a way off

2:55PM

Saracens 44 Gloucester 14, 61 minutes

Billy Vunipola heads off now, Mike Rhodes replacing him. Itoje nabs a Gloucester lineout now.

2:54PM

Try, Ruan Dreyer! Saracens 44 Gloucester 14, 59 minutes

Jaco Kriel rampages down the touchline and smashes Liam Williams out of the way. Cipriani puts Dreyer through the gap and a dummy sees the replacement tighthead trundle under the posts. Twelvetrees converts.

2:52PM

Very good

2:51PM

Try, Nick Tompkins! Saracens 44 Gloucester 7, 56 minutes

It's a hat-trick for Tompkins. Alex Goode sashays past a couple of defenders and gets very close before Maro Itoje is repelled. Tompkins follows up and teanciously finishes the try. He has a treble and, with Farrell's conversion, Saracens are out to 44. 

2:49PM

"We've got some of the best kick-regather players in the world"

Credit: BT Sport

Alex Sanderson says that Saracens base a lot of their kicking gather on Australian rules football. Meanwhile, the hosts win a penalty and kick to touch just 10 metres out...

2:47PM

Saracens 37 Gloucester 7, 53 minutes

A few changes here. Ben Spencer swaps with Richard Wigglesworth and Will Skelton is replaced by Nick Isiekwe.

Henry Purdy is on for Charlie Sharples for Gloucester as well.

2:45PM

Try, Nick Tompkins! Saracens 37 Gloucester 7, 49 minutes

It's getting messy. Gloucester lose the ball when it escapes at the foot of a ruck. Jamie George calls for a pass from Billy Vunipola and Saracens flood through on the counter. Goode and Farrell combine nicely and Tompkins sprints clear.

Farrell converts. The champions are going back to Twickenham.

2:42PM

Saracens 30 Gloucester 7, 48 minutes  

Encouraging for Gloucester. They win back the restart and then spread the ball wide, Cipriani shipping on under serious pressure from Itoje. Tompkins takes Marshall high and the visitors hit touch.

2:40PM

Handbags!

Gloucester creep offside. George Kruis and Franco Mostert have a push and shove. 

Credit: BT Sport

 Farrell is going for goal again. He's missed again. That's three now.

2:37PM

Saracens 30 Gloucester 7, 44 minutes 

Spencer scampers away from the base of the scrum and Heinz is penalised for chucking a boot into the breakdown after making the tackle.

Farrell misses the kick, though.

Credit: BT Sport

2:36PM

Looking this way...

2:35PM

Saracens 30 Gloucester 7, 43 minutes

Saracens collect the restart and clear. Then Itoje and Jackson Wray pressurise Gloucester's phase-play, forcing a knock-on. 

2:34PM

Try, Nick Tompkins! Saracens 30 Gloucester 7, 42 minutes

Clinical. Liam Williams gathers a box-kick under pressure from Marshall. George Kruis carries hard, denting Gloucester and then Saracens spread it. Tompkins accelerates away to score. That is all too easy.

Farrell converts and the gap is 23. 

2:32PM

Second half

We're off again. Farrell starts the second period. Marshall collects after a bounce. There have been no further changes.

2:20PM

Match action

Saracens' second of three tries here. The calm and composure in space from Maro Itoje is outstanding.

2:18PM

Half-time | Saracens 23 Gloucester 7

That little passage sums up the half. Gloucester launch their familiar pattern from the scrum. Atkinson pulling back to Cipriani. 

Saracens hold firm and force the visitors 20 metres back. Tom Marshall then kicks into touch to end the half. It's a long way back from here.

2:14PM

Try, Liam Williams! Saracens 23 Gloucester 7, 37 minutes

That's what they do. Ben Spencer's box-kick is recovered by Saracens and then Owen Farrell goes high. Alex Lozowski chases, gathering it clean ahead of Cipriani, and releasing Liam Williams.

William glides over the line and, despite a valiant effort from Cipriani, he dots down:

Credit: BT Sport

2:12PM

TMO

Has Liam Williams scored? 

2:11PM

Penalty, Owen Farrell! Saracens 18 Gloucester 7, 34 minutes 

Billy Vunipola is beginning to assert himself on this game. The number eight releases a couple of offloads and then Saracens surge over the gain-line. Tom Savage is penalised for a counter-ruck that barrels over Ben Spencer.

Farrell adds three more.

2:09PM

Saracens 15 Gloucester 7, 31 minutes

Gloucester win a penalty when Sean Maitland takes a catcher in the air. They go to touch and run their trademark midfield move. Sharples makes a half-break but then his pass is wonderfully intercepted by Alex Goode.

It's hotting up.

2:06PM

Try, Ben Spencer! Saracens 15 Gloucester 7, 29 minutes

That's excellent from Maro Itoje. Billy Vunipola picks around the base of a ruck and offloads to his blinside flanker, who lopes clear. He dummies, beating Charlie Sharples, and then releases Spencer.

The scrum-half scampers under the posts and Saracens have an eight-point advantage.

2:05PM

Saracens 8 Gloucester 7, 27 minutes    

Frantic stuff. A Saracens offload goes loose inside the Gloucester 22 and the visitors attempt to run it out but Billy Vunipola chases back to make a cover tackle on Cipriani.

Credit: BT Sport

Two quick setbacks for Saracens. First Brad Barritt limps off. Nick Tompkins replaces him:

Credit: BT Sport

 And then Saracens lose a lineout. Gloucester clear.

2:01PM

Saracens 8 Gloucester 7, 25 minutes   

Billy Vunipola storms off the base of the scrum then Spencer goes to the air. Gloucester recover and Cipriani wins the kicking duel for his side by skipping a kick into touch.

That's an excellent response from Saracens. Kruis rises to take the lineout and a strong maul ekes out penalty advantage. Saracens spread the ball left before Maitland chips ahead. Ben Morgan has to hack into touch.

Another blow for Gloucester. Ed Slater is off. Tom Savage comes on in his place.

1:57PM

Saracens 8 Gloucester 7, 22 minutes  

Jamie George's throw skews off the straight. "It's a tough call," says Luke Pearce. "Give me one back, then," replies George.

Gloucester punch holes from the scrum until there is a handling error from Franco Marais.  

1:55PM

"Both teams, cut the appealing"

Luke Pearce lays down the law.

Credit: BT Sport

1:55PM

Saracens 8 Gloucester 7, 20 minutes 

Another breakdown penalty against Gloucester. This time Atkinson appears to strip the ball from Lozowski, but Billy Vunipola is in support and over the top. Pearce whistles against Atkinson.

Farrell's penalty hits the post! Jaco Kriel is there to mop up and eventually Willi Heinz clears.

1:51PM

Saracens 8 Gloucester 7, 18 minutes

Cipriani goes across-field with a dink that Tom Marshall gathers over the top of Liam Williams but Saracens scramble back to win a turnover. Itoje carries strongly and Saracens clear, then their pressing forces a tip-on from Jason Woodward that goes forward.

1:50PM

Alex Lozowski for Japan?

1:49PM

Penalty, Owen Farrell! Saracens 8 Gloucester 7, 17 minutes

The hosts are back ahead.

1:48PM

Saracens 5 Gloucester 7, 15 minutes    

Ben Spencer goes high and Cipriani's offload goes to the floor as Saracens chase hard. Cipriani dives on the loose ball but is penalised as Saracens' forwards swarm him.

1:47PM

Saracens 5 Gloucester 7, 14 minutes   

Edgy little period. Saracens win back a couple of high balls and then Farrell tries to thread through another left-footed grubber but there is a ricochet and Cipriani clips through into touch.

1:45PM

Saracens 5 Gloucester 7, 12 minutes  

Jaco Kriel swoops over the ball to win a penalty:

Credit: BT Sport

And then Saracens are marched back 10 metres following some back-chat from Owen Farrell. 

Big chance for Gloucester as Cipriani kicks them to within 10 metres...but the lineout goes loose at the back again. Maro Itoje gathers it.

1:43PM

Match action

Here is Gloucester's opening try...

..and here is Saracens' rapid response:

1:41PM

Saracens 5 Gloucester 7, 9 minutes 

Jamie George seems to be struggling with a shoulder injury and that lineout throw is messy. Gloucester nab it at the tail.

1:40PM

Saracens 5 Gloucester 7, 7 minutes

Kruis takes the restart this time and Gloucester launch from the lineout but Liam Williams is over the ball to win a breakdown turnover.

Ben Spencer clears but then there is an error from Cipriani, who kicks out on the full. It'll be a lineout to Saracens between the Gloucester 10-metre line and the visitors' 22.

1:38PM

Try, Sean Maitland! Saracens 5 Gloucester 7, 5 minutes

Instant response! Liam Williams charges after the restart and wins it back. Billy Vunipola takes contact and the ball comes back out to the backline with Alex Goode and Brad Barritt getting the ball to Owen Farrell.

There is a delicate dink past the onrushing Gloucester defence and Maitland gathers to dot it down. Farrell misses the conversion but the hosts will be far happier.

1:35PM

Try, Ben Morgan! Saracen 0 Gloucester 7, 3 minutes

What a start. Mark Atkinson takes a pass from Billy Twelvetrees and slips the ball inside to Tom Marshall, who finds Charlie Sharples and Ben Morgan charges over!

Twelvetrees adds the conversion from the right touchline. 

1:34PM

Saracens 0 Gloucester 0, 1 minute

A collapse leads to a re-set. There is plenty of chat from both sides picked up by the referee's microphone.

On the second attempt the steadier. Gloucester go into their trademark strike move but Saracens initially hold firm on the edge of their 22...

1:32PM

Kick-off

Here we go. Danny Cipriani starts us off, clipping the drop-kick high. And there's an uncharacteristic error from George Kruis!

He spills it after being lifted and we'll have our first scrum.

Credit: BT Sport

1:30PM

Atmosphere check

 Gloucester's supporters are sounding loud and proud.

1:30PM

Players out

Here they come. First, the visitors...

Credit: BT Sport

...and then the hosts, led by wing David Strettle on his final appearance at Allianz Park:

Credit: BT Sport

1:22PM

Man in the middle

Luke Pearce is taking charge of today's game. He's had a very good season with the whistle.

Credit: CameraSport 

1:19PM

Gloucester's pack is prepared

With Ed Slater and Franco Mostert at the heart of things, Gloucester's pack is dynamic and - in the nicest way possible - nasty. But can they overcome Saracens? It's a mighty, mighty task.

Credit: BT Sport

1:17PM

"This started way back in pre-season"

Credit: BT Sport

Johan Ackermann seems remarkably relaxed. "We'll live with this result, we want to inspire the people that have come to watch."

1:16PM

Sarries domination?

Martin reckons so.

t

1:13PM

Alex Goode's influence

Great statting here.

Credit: BT Sport

1:10PM

Just 20 minutes now...

Predictions? That's what the comments section is for. Give me a shout.

1:08PM

No late changes

12:57PM

Half an hour to go

This is a nice little feature with Telegraph columnist Danny Cipriani.

12:53PM

"This is about trying to put Gloucester back on the map"

Willi Heinz says Gloucester will not alter the way they have been playing all season: "There will be space somewhere".

Credit: BT Sport

12:51PM

"We knew we had to get back to reality"

Vincent Koch tells BT Sport's Lawrence Dallaglio that Saracens celebrated hard for a couple of days after the Champions Cup final victory before knuckling down.

Credit: BT Sport

12:50PM

Can the underdogs pull through?

Austin Healey takes a closer look at both semi-finals in this week's column.

Credit: Getty Images Europe 

12:48PM

Alex Goode leads the chat

Credit: BT Sport

 The full-back is an influential figure under Mark McCall.

12:41PM

In praise of Richard Barrington, Saracens' singing unsung hero 

Will Greenwood says the loosehead prop, starting today in the absence of Mako Vunipola, is a symbol of his club's success.

Credit: Getty Images Europe 

12:37PM

Johan Ackermann's revolution

Speaking of Gloucester's head coach, read this excellent feature from my colleague Dan Schofield on the work that the South African has done since arriving in the West Country.

Credit: Getty Images Europe 

12:34PM

Off the coach

Here is Gloucester's playmaker...

Credit: PA

 ...and here is their head coach:

Credit: PA

12:30PM

One hour until kick-off

The bookies have given Saracens an 11-point start today. 

12:27PM

Analysis

Saracens *might* just have a little weakness defending strike-moves. 

With Danny Cipriani conducting things, Gloucester have sharpened an incisive set of starter plays. Read up on them here.

Credit: BT Sport

12:19PM

Players in the house

There are Saracens, who have arrived with around an hour and a quarter until kick-off.

Credit: Getty Images Europe 

 The conditions look still and warmish. It could be a quick one, this game.

12:16PM

Hi there

Hello and welcome to our live text commentary of semi-final Saturday in the Gallagher Premiership, which is starting in Barnet with Saracens hosting Gloucester. What a game this could be.

Back in September at Allianz Park, Mark McCall's men thrashed Gloucester. During the Six Nations, Johan Ackermann's side held on for a win at Kingsholm.

Gloucester have consistently improved over the course of this domestic campaign and deservedly ended up in third spot - ahead of the mid-table traffic jam yet behind the top two. Remarkably, both teams have reached this stage of a gruelling term with most of their big names intact.

Mako Vunipola has been sidelined because of hamstring surgery, while this weekend has come slightly too soon for Ollie Thorley - a breakthrough star of this season. Here are the line-ups.

Saracens

15. Alex Goode, 14. Liam Williams, 13. Alex Lozowski, 12. Brad Barritt (captain), 11. Sean Maitland, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Ben Spencer; 1. Richard Barrington, 2. Jamie George, 3. Vincent Koch, 4. Will Skelton, 5. George Kruis, 6. Maro Itoje, 7. Jackson Wray, 8. Billy Vunipola
Replacements: 16. Joe Gray, 17. Ralph Adams-Hale, 18. Christian Judge, 19. Nick Isiekwe, 20. Mike Rhodes, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Nick Tompkins, 23. David Strettle

Gloucester

15. Jason Woodward, 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Billy Twelvetrees, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Tom Marshall, 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Willi Heinz (captain); 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. Franco Marais, 3. Fraser Balmain, 4. Ed Slater, 5. Franco Mostert, 6. Ruan Ackermann, 7. Jaco Kriel, 8. Ben Morgan
Replacements: 16. Mike Sherry, 17. Val Rapava Ruskin, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. Tom Savage, 20. Lewis Ludlow, 21. Jake Polledri, 22. Ben Vellacott, 23. Henry Purdy