'World-class' - Josh Hathaway scores hat-trick in Gloucester's defeat at Saracens

A second-half hat-trick for 20-year-old winger Josh Hathaway took the edge off Gloucester Rugby's 46-24 defeat at Saracens on Saturday as director of rugby George Skivington opted to rest his stars for the trip to the StoneX Stadium.

Saracens were well on their way to victory by half time after winger Tom Parton scored the earliest hat-trick in Gallagher Premiership history against the young and inexperienced Cherry and Whites outfit. It took just under 21 minutes of the game for Parton to run in the first three of the seven tries Sarries scored as they consolidated their place in the top four and put their Investec Champions Cup thrashing against Bordeaux Begles behind them. But the hosts were helped by Gloucester making 11 alterations from their European Challenge Cup quarter-final win against the Ospreys.

READ MORE: Saracens 46-24 Gloucester Rugby LIVE reaction and highlights from the StoneX Stadium

Reflecting on the game, Skvington said: “We weren’t accurate enough, probably, in the first 10 minutes. We had three opportunities to execute some plays and we dropped the ball, so from that point of view there’s a good lesson there for how accurate you’ve got to be at this level.

“But I think their ability to stay in the fight – they never threw the towel in – and then to fight back and score four tries up here is pretty pleasing.”

On Hathaway’s hat-trick, he added: “We challenged Josh with a couple of bits around his game for today, but when you put the ball in his hands, he’s world-class and I think he’s scored a good few tries like that. He’s had a good few moments and obviously he’s in the deep end today and he’s come out and had three really good moments for us.”

It took Saracens seven minutes to open the scoring when the ball went through the hands of Aled Davies, Owen Farrell and Alex Goode before Parton finished down the left, with Farrell converting from out wide. Parton made it a double in the 12th minute when he was found in acres of space by Goode after he had been picked out by a long pass from Farrell, who again added the extras. A quickfire hat-trick for the former London Irish man was then completed when he nipped in again down his wing after Davies had broken away from a driving maul.

Sarries thought they had secured the try bonus point after half an hour when Tom Willis burrowed over, but a knock-on by Ben Earl at the preceding ruck led to the score being ruled out. The hosts were, however, playing with an advantage and ensured they finished the attack with three points as Farrell knocked over a simple penalty.

It took less than two minutes of the second half for Saracens’ 22-0 half-time lead to be extended when Theo McFarland rose above Jake Morris to gather Farrell’s cross-field kick and score Sarries’ fourth try. To make matters worse for Gloucester, they had Albert Tuisue sent to the sin bin for making head-on-head contact with Rotimi Segun.

Having been denied earlier, Willis did get on the scoresheet in the 57th minute when he was given an armchair ride to the line off the back of a driving maul. Gloucester finally got themselves on the board with an hour played when Hathaway chased down a neat kick through from hooker Seb Blake to score.

Normal service was quickly resumed, however, when Manu Vunipola went through a gaping hole down the centre before his pass put Olly Hartley in the clear. Saracens soon had their seventh try when Hartley timed his pass to put Lucio Cinti into the corner on the left.

The Cherry and Whites belatedly rallied late on as Hathaway completed his treble by cashing in on a couple of loose Sarries’ passes before Blake went over off the final play.

Gloucester host Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm in the Premiership next Sunday before turning their attention back to Europe with Benetton coming to the West Country in the Challenge Cup semi-final.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Tom Parton, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Aled Davies, 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Theo Dan, 3 Marco Riccioni, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Theo McFarland, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Ben Earl, 8 Tom Willis

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Olly Hartley.

Gloucester Rugby: 15. George Barton, 14. Josh Hathaway, 13. Louis Hillman-Cooper, 12. Seb Atkinson, 11. Jake Morris, 10. Charlie Atkinson, 9. Caolan Englefield, 1. Mayco Vivas, 2. Santi Socino, 3. Fraser Balmain, 4. Arthur Clark, 5. Freddie Thomas, 6. Albert Tuisue, 7. Lewis Ludlow (c), 8. Jack Clement

Replacements: 16. Seb Blake, 17. Harry Elrington, 18. Ciaran Knight, 19. Danny Eite, 20. Rob Nixon, 21. Charlie Chapman, 22. Jack Reeves, 23. Ioan Jones.