Both teams went into Saturdays game knowing a win was vital. Described as the toughest game of the season by the coaching staff, it proved to be nothing less.
A show-and-go by flyhalf Brad Harris opened a hole in the away defence but a knock on from the pass saw Old Boys get the scrum. A huge drive from the Sarries didn’t win the ball but did get the turn over. James McMahon made a strong run but the home side couldn’t produce anything with the pressure.
Saracens won a penalty as Old Boys player deliberately knocked on as Kyle Thomas looked to pass from a ruck. Harris stepped up and kept his cool to chalk up three points.
Old Boys were awarded a penalty at the breakdown outside the 22m line, and converted with a less than convincing kick.
Harris over-hit the restart into the deadball area but a huge scrum from the home team stole the ball against the head.
For the rest of the half the match remained neck and neck, with both teams attacking well and defending strongly.
Old Boys managed to pick up a sin bin in the final stages as the referee appeared to be tired of penalties at the breakdown.
Sarries went for the penalty lineout but the maul was held up, and brought an end to the first half.
Half time 3-3.
Early in the second half Gloucester Old Boys marked up the first try of the game. With the forwards utilising the pick-and-go, a cross-field kick to the winger landed just in the right place for an easy catch and diving try. It was converted, giving the away team a 3-10 lead.
Sarries started well, putting pressure on the away team from the restart. It wasn’t long before they were awarded a penalty for their efforts, with Harris closing the gap from the tee. 6-10.
Sam Rimmer was next to put points on the board after a strong run down the right, a pass near the Old Boys’ try line was knocked backwards. Will Dove recovered possession and made a go for the line but was tackled just short. Replacement scrumhalf Matt Kelly found Rimmer from the ruck and the fullback dived for a try in the right corner, finishing the move he started.
The angle proved too much for Harris with his kick sailing wide.
From another ruck penalty, Saracens put the ball into touch. From the lineout maul, Dan Burnham tried to ram his away across the line but couldn’t break through. The follow up from James McMahon, however, was successful, just left of the posts. Harris added two with an easy kick. 18-10
From the restart, play again broke down, with both teams attacking and defending well, a theme that had run throughout the game. Saracens won a penalty, and kicked for posts but were unable to convert it.
Following this Old Boys started a fight back. From a penalty kick, 21metres out, they made it 18-13.
A little chip over the top by Old Boys was enough to break the home defence. Saracens switched off as an Old Boys player was able to sneak in and pounce on the loose ball. Luckily for Saracens, the conversion was missed.
The rest of the match saw Saracens pile on the pressure, and winning a penalty at the ruck. Again the referee went to his pocket and sent an Old Boys player to the bin.
Harris’ penalty sailed just wide, amid disrespectful shouting from a couple of Gloucester Old Boys supporters. The referee took no action at all, and continued the game.
As the clock struck 80 minutes, Old Boys were able to turn over a ruck, and kick it into touch, bringing an end to a nail-biting finale.
Full Time: Saracens 18, Gloucester Old Boys 18.