|Gloucester (10) 16|
|Tries: Thorley Con: Carreras Pens: Carreras 3|
|Saracens (11) 19|
|Tries: Malins; Van Zyl Pens: Farrell 2 Drop goal: Farrell|
Owen Farrell scored a last-minute drop-goal as Saracens beat Gloucester 19-16 in a thriller at Kingsholm.
Max Malins and Ollie Thorley scored a try apiece as Farrell and Santiago Carreras traded penalties in a tight first half.
Farrell left 10 points on the field in missed kicks as Ivan van Zyl scored Sarries’ second try to retake the lead.
Carreras’ third penalty had the match heading for a draw but Farrell’s kick at the death snatched victory.
The win means Saracens extend their lead at the top of the Premiership to 14 points, while the defeat was only the second at home for Gloucester in the league since May.
Farrell however could face repercussions for a high tackle on Jack Clement late on, which was not reviewed on the field at the time by the referee but was highlighted by the television officials.
It was the tightest of matches defined by the two fly-halves, with Santiago Carreras kicking 11 points for Gloucester and Farrell kicking nine for Saracens, but also missing even more.
Saracens turned the ball over at the first breakdown of the match and began a 10-minute period where they penned the hosts in their own half.
Mako Vunipola went over the try-line only to be held up by George McGuigan before Malins stretched over two minutes later to open the scoring as Saracens moved the ball through the phases and freed the winger up on the right.
When Gloucester finally broke into Saracens territory their usually effective line-out fell flat. Maro Itoje disrupted their first attacking throw, before Ben Morgan appeared to score from a perfect maul and drive on the other side only for the TMO to scrub it off due to a dummy throw from McGuigan.
The home fans were still reeling when Thorley broke between two Saracens defenders seconds later in midfield, running 50 metres to stylishly score his first try of the season and push Gloucester in front.
Yet the momentum swung constantly back and forth as Farrell and Carreras scored a penalty apiece to capitalise on each team’s spell of possession, before the England and Saracens captain nudged the visitors ahead at the break by a point.
Carreras – continuing his fine run of form at fly-half this season – kicked another three points after the restart to turn the tide back the Cherry and Whites’ way. He then superbly broke the Saracens defence, only for Alex Goode to deliberately block his path as he chased his own kick.
The winger was sent to the sin-bin, but the Argentina international missed the subsequent penalty and despite being on the ascendancy with a man advantage, their line-out failed them for a fourth time in attack and Gloucester did not make the period count.
The packed home crowd appeared to start getting to Farrell, who hit the post with his third penalty, kicked wide with his fourth, and missed a conversion, but Van Zyl powered over in the corner to nudge Sarries back ahead.
The match was heading for a tie after Carreras’ third penalty with eight minutes to go, which seemed fair with nothing between the two sides.
Yet Farrell had the last word in front of The Shed and he did not miss the kick that mattered most, as Saracens set up the perfect drop-goal position with the clock deep in the red.
Gloucester head coach George Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
“I thought the boys were outstanding, I thought they managed the game really well.
“They had a strike when the strikes were on and I thought they kicked smartly, and there’s probably a few areas we could be better at – our line-out didn’t quite get what we usually get out of it.
“We put a lot of pressure on and probably got a little bit confused in the 22 in their area a couple of times, and that’s probably the difference in winning that game by a score and not.
“I’m not supposed to talk about stuff like that [the Farrell high tackle] but I am frustrated. I’m more frustrated that it’s very quick to get yellows for us last week and sometimes it seems you don’t get the rub of the green and I feel like tonight, in a few areas, we didn’t get the rub of the green.”
Gloucester: Evans, May, Harris, Kveseladze, Thorley, Carreras, Meehan; Rapava Ruskin, McGuigan, Gotovtsev, Clarke, Alemanno, Ackermann, Ludlow (c), Morgan.
Replacements: Blake, Elrington, Knight, Jordan, Clement, Varney, Twelvetrees, Seabrook.
Saracens: Goode, Malins, Lozowski, Taylor, Lewington, Farrell (c), Davies; M Vunipola, George, Riccioni, Itoje, Tizard, Christie, Earl, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Dan, Mawi, Judge, Isiekwe, Wray, Van Zyl, Hallett, Segun.
Sin-bin: Alex Goode (46 mins).
Referee: Karl Dickson.