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Peter Butler Column: All Blacks, Saracens and Amlin Cup

By The Citizen  |  Posted: December 04, 2012

Saracens v Gloucester Rugby  (29)

Saracens v Gloucester Rugby (29)

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IT WAS an excruciating way for Gloucester to lose but they have to come away happy with what they got from Saracens.

The fact is they were the better team for much of the game against Saracens, one of the Premiership's most consistent teams.

Regardless of how many the hosts had away on international duty – remember Gloucester were missing both Ben Morgan and Freddie Burns themselves – to outscore them two tries to one on their own patch is an achievement in itself.

It's a scoreline Gloucester can – and must – take heart from.

It shows they are capable of beating Saracens on their own patch which could be very valuable when it comes to the shake up at the end of the season.

As for how it did end, it seems just one of those things to me.

The one scrum that went wrong when the Cherry and Whites desperately needed it to go right.

You can argue the toss about the referee's decision all you like, but I felt it was clear why he gave the penalty so you cannot argue with it.

Maybe it was a bit of lack of experience from Shaun Knight, who has been excellent in a Gloucester shirt up to now.

If that is the case, then he can only learn from it.

Young props of his stature are few and far between and you are going to get the odd lesson in games. But I'm sure Knight's rise will continue.

This match also proved that you can't afford to be picking up yellow cards left right and centre and still expect to win games.

I know it's a fine balance between doing enough and going too far, but Gloucester were without players for 20 minutes of that match, and you can't afford that in such a high stakes encounter.

It's not the first time it has happened this season, so it might be time for Nigel Davies to address the issue.

His other option is to treat it as bad luck and hope Gloucester's fortune turns in that department.

If they can keep 15 players on the field for 80 minutes they could really end up doing some damage to the big teams.

ALL BLACKS WERE WELL BERATEN BUT IT MUST BE THE START

I WAS as surprised as anyone with the performance that England put in to beat the mighty All Blacks.

You can’t take anything away from the men in white. They were comprehensively the better team on the day.

And it was fantastic to see Freddie Burns get the chance to be part of it on his debut and for Ben Morgan to play his part too.

I called for Burns not to be included last week, but the manner in which it all happened will have done him the power of good.

These things are very fragile, but Burns looked every bit an England player the way he confidently slotted his kicks, just like he has done for Gloucester all season.

England’s challenge now is to build on this victory, to not let standards slip.

A big and successful Six Nations is required – after all, New Zealand was just one win out of three against the southern hemisphere’s best.

LETS NOT BE CAST IN TO EXILE IN AMLIN CUP

IT’S back to the grindstone for Gloucester over the next two weeks with home and away European ties against London Irish.

It may not be the type of glamour double header the Cherry and Whites have experienced in the past, but it could be a chance for them to really put down a marker in the Amlin Challenge Cup against the struggling Exiles.

With a full complement to choose from again, Nigel Davies must reintegrate the England players quickly.

It will be harder for Ben Morgan having been away for a couple of weeks, but even Freddie Burns will have been training under different structures for the last week so it might take him some time to get back into it.

The way London Irish are going at the moment Gloucester have to target two wins from these two games.

That would put the Cherry and Whites in a great position heading into the pre-Christmas visit of south west rivals Exeter, who are having another decent season in the top flight.

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  • TommoOfGlaws  |  December 04 2012, 8:03AM

    Quote: "I felt it was clear why he gave the penalty so you cannot argue with it." Quite right but it would have been a different story if the starting front row, especially the tight-head, had been still out there for that last scrum.

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