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Gloucester miss out on play-offs despite hammering Saracens

By PA
Louis Rees-Zammit of Gloucester Rugby touches down for the seventh try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Saracens at Kingsholm Stadium on June 04, 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Gloucester missed out on the Gallagher Premiership play-offs but they still ended their season with a thumping 54-7 victory over Saracens at Kingsholm.

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Saracens, who will host Harlequins in the play-offs next weekend, rested England internationals like Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly, and they fell to their second-heaviest defeat in Premiership history.

Gloucester were outstanding throughout, setting up a comprehensive success through first-half tries from hooker Jack Singleton, flanker Jordy Reid and full-back Santiago Carreras.

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Northampton’s emphatic win against Newcastle gave them the final play-off spot, with Gloucester finishing fifth after a season when they have made considerable strides under head coach George Skivington.

Saracens had no answer, with Gloucester superior in all departments, and second-half tries were added by Singleton, replacement hooker Santiago Socino, Ollie Thorley, his fellow wing Louis Rees-Zammit and flanker Jack Clement, while fly-half Adam Hastings kicked seven conversions.

A Max Malins try and a Manu Vunipola conversion provided Saracens’ solitary points, although the cavalry will return to face Quins.

There was also some good news for England head coach Eddie Jones ahead of next month’s Australia tour, with Gloucester wing Jonny May making a second-half comeback appearance after five months out injured.

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Gloucester showed three changes from the team beaten by Harlequins last time out, with Singleton, Reid and scrum-half Ben Meehan starting, while May was among the replacements.

Saracens boss Mark McCall changed the entire starting line-up on duty against Northampton a fortnight ago, with thoughts firmly on their semi-final appointment with Quins.

It took Gloucester just eight minutes to open their account, and they struck through a trademark driven lineout that Saracens could not stop, with Singleton touching down and Hastings converting.

An unfamiliar Saracens side looked to capitalise on a reasonable amount of possession, yet they were undone by Gloucester again in the 19th minute.

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Another powerful lineout drive put Saracens’ defence on the back foot, before Meehan’s pass found an unmarked Reid, who crossed for a well-worked try that Hastings converted.

Saracens thought they had cut the deficit shortly afterwards when Malins dived towards the line and applied a one-handed finish, but television replays showed he failed to ground the ball.

Saracens skipper Jackson Wray then departed for a head injury assessment, and Gloucester claimed a third try eight minutes before the break.

Singleton was the creator, surging clear along the touchline, then quickly recycled possession and found Hastings, who foxed Saracens’ defence with a dummy pass before sending Carreras clear to score.

Hastings converted, leaving Gloucester within sight of a bonus-point, and although Wray rejoined the action, his team had a mountain to climb.

But Gloucester were in no mood to relinquish their grip, and after Saracens lock Tim Swinson was yellow-carded for a high hit on Thorley, the home side pounced again.

Swinson had barely left the action before another lineout put Saracens in reverse gear, and Singleton claimed his second try to open up a 26-point lead.

Gloucester centre Chris Harris created a fifth Gloucester touchdown just four minutes later, sprinting past Saracens defenders in midfield and delivering a scoring pass to Thorley. Hastings again added the extras.

Socino pounced for another Gloucester score just before the hour mark, although it was followed by a Saracens consolation try when Malins raced clear and Vunipola converted.

Normal service was resumed, though, with scores for Rees-Zammit and Clement as Gloucester finished their campaign in style.

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