WATERTIGHT Irish defence kept the Saxons at bay despite a thrilling assault in the final five minutes.
First-half tries for Isaac Boss and Ian Madigan proved to be enough for the visitors to take the spoils back to Ireland, despite four try-scoring opportunities for the Saxons in the second half.
The visitors caught the Saxons napping after just five minutes. After a Saxons knock-on, scrum-half Isaac Boss seized possession from a driving line-out and darted past the lethargic Freddie Burns and Luke Wallace to cross the whitewash.
Madigan ably converted and the Wolfhounds were 7 points up.
Full-back Elliot Daly had a potent attack to the line halted by the tireless Irish defence. Burns and Hopper, whose powerful step was impressing the Kingsholm crowd, were trying to create something in the back line, but Burns’ wayward passes squandered territory.
Daly impressed once again with a accurate grubber kick that bounced to touch deep in the Irish 22, but the Wolfhounds did very well to disrupt Saxons ball at the breakdown and force a turnover to clear their lines.
Kingsholm came alive in the 24th minute when pace-ace Watson intercepted some sloppy Irish handling from Darren Cave and raced clear to the line, forcing himself further into Six Nations reckoning in the process.
But the relatively easy conversion from Burns drifted in the breeze and hit the uprights.
The Irish doubled the deficit just minutes later. Madigan’s solo scrabble over the line was awarded after deliberation from the TMO and he duly added the extras.
Henry Slade came on as a blood replacement for Sam Hill in the 31st minute, as Sharples showed off his pace.
His efforts were rewarded as the Irish were penalised and Burns kicked to the corner, but again the Wolfhounds drove the Saxons backwards with a tireless work rate in defence.
In the second half, the host nation emerged the livelier of the two, but knock-ons in greasy conditions proved costly.
The Wolfhounds were penalised in the scrum but Burns, who endured a mediocre game, saw his kick in front of the posts hit the upright once again.
A driving maul was turned over after some superb work from the Irish pack, before swift, deft handling along the Saxons attacking line was ended prematurely by a knock-on for captain Calum Clark.
Talented Gloucester lock Elliott Stooke replaced Charlie Matthews and Dave Ewers came off for Sam Dickinson, as the England coaching staff rang the changes in the 50th minute.
But the Wolfhounds still had the ascendency. Madigan again tried to create space to dart over, before the ball was fed out to replacement Simon Zebo who flashed down the wing only to be bundled to touch.
In the 63rd minute, Burns finally found his kicking boot - after the Irish strayed offside, the departing fly-half split the posts and reduced the deficit to 14-8.
Zebo set about proving his international credentials, side-stepping Saxons’ efforts to bring him down and creating space but Saxons could smell blood and the final five minutes were riotous as the side desperately searched for a winning score.
After a superb run down the wing, Saxons were penalised, and all the Irish had to do was keep the ball in hand.
But a cross-field kick found the desperate hands of replacement Rob Miller, who fired a counter-attack grubber down the wing to chase, as the clock ran down and the crowd roared.
Waves of attack culminated in Daly and Burns both having chances to touch down, but Irish defence was too strong and the ball was held out.
E Daly, A Watson, M Hopper (R Miller, 41), S Hill (H Slade, 31), C Sharples, F Burns, J Simpson (D Lewis, 74), A Waller (N Catt, 60), J George (D Ward, 64), T Mercey (S Wilson, 41), C Matthews (E Stooke, 50), G Kruis, C Clark (c), L Wallace, D Ewers (S Dickinson, 50)
F Jones, F McFadden, R Henshaw (I Keatley, 60), D Cave, C Gilroy (S Zebo, 50), I Madigan, I Boss, D Kilcoyne (J McGrath, 51), R Herring (R Strauss, 51), M Moore (S Archer, 50), I Henderson, D Tuohy, R Ruddock (c), T O'Donnell, R Copeland
R Diack, J Morphy, K Marmion,
REFEREE: Ian Davies