Hibbard inflicts more pain on Saracens

 18 Feb 2017 - 9:03

Hibbard inflicts more pain on Saracens

AFP

London: A late try by hooker Richie Hibbard secured Gloucester a deserved 31-23 victory over Premiership champions Saracens who went down to a second successive defeat for the first time since May 2015 on Friday.

Former Welsh international Hibbard's try added to those of man of the match Tom Marshall and his Kiwi compatriot Jeremy Thrush as European champions Saracens conceded three tries for the first time this season and failed to secure a bonus point of any sort for the first time in 11 months.

Defeat leaves Saracens five points adrift of leaders Wasps, who can extend their advantage if they take something from their trip to in-form Sale on Sunday.

The only downside for Gloucester was a head injury to fly-half Billy Burns -- who scored 13 points -- midway through the second-half which required several minutes of attention and resulted in him being stretchered off.

For watching England coach Eddie Jones there was positive news in that Saracens prop Mako Vunipola returned to action for the first time in almost four months after a knee injury.

He played for 70 minutes which should end with him being in England's squad for the Six Nations match against Italy next Sunday. 

Burns put the hosts ahead after six minutes with a penalty but the visitors stormed back through hooker Schalk Brits touching down for his 22nd Premiership try.

Alex Lozowski converted and Marcelo Bosch added a penalty soon afterwards from the halfway line for 10-3. 

However, Gloucester drew level after a sustained period of pressure saw Marshall go over for his first try for the club -- Burns converted for 10-10.

Lozowski slotted a penalty shortly afterwards to give Saracens a three point lead but after a sustained spell of pressure from Gloucester Burns converted a penalty for 13-13.

Burns deservedly put the hosts ahead 16-13 with the last kick of the half.

The hosts increased their lead 10 minutes into the second-half as after yet more pressure by the Cherry and Whites saw former All Blacks lock Thrush go over -- though it should probably not have stood as there was a knock on by scrum-half Willi Heinz unseen by referee Wayne Barnes -- and Burns convert for 23-13.

A desperate spell for Gloucester coinciding with Burns's injury -- and a yellow card for Paul Doran Jones -- saw Saracens draw level at 23-23.

However, the hosts regained the lead with six minutes remaining former England centre Billy Twelvetrees popping over a penalty and the crowd were on their feet minutes later as 33-year-old Hibbard went over.