It’s been a funny Premiership season, with the top 2 pretty much cemented early on. The relegation spot wasn’t confirmed until virtually the end of the season, with Newcastle being the team to go down.

Gloucester had come through as strong contenders for 3rd place, beating Saracens at Kingsholm during the 6 Nations window, they were deserved winners that Friday evening, winning 30 to Saracens 24. But this semi-final saw a team prepared for the end of the season with virtually a full team available. Mako Vunipola, who really is a star of a player had left the Champions Cup Final early, alongside Titi Lamositile. Vunipola won’t play again this season and Lamositile wasn’t fit for this match.

There remains speculation around the salary cap for Saracens, one of the areas that can see the salary cap of £6.4m lifted relates to home grown players, another England and International player credits, some food for thought when looking at the teams below. The 2 line ups are listed, with home grown players noted in bold and international players in Italics.

Saracens – 9 Home grown players in the 23

  1. Richard Barrington
  2. Jamie George
  3. Vincent Koch
  4. Will Skelton
  5. George Kruis
  6. Maro Itoje
  7. Jackson Wray
  8. Billy Vunipola
  9. Ben Spencer
  10. Owen Farrell
  11. Sean Maitland
  12. Brad Barritt
  13. Alex Lozowski
  14. Liam Williams
  15. Alex Goode
  16. Joe Gray
  17. Ralph Adams-Hale
  18. Christian Judge
  19. Nick Isiekwe
  20. Mike Rhodes
  21. Richard Wigglesworth
  22. Nick Tompkins
  23. David Strettle

Gloucester Rugby – 3 Home grown players (from what I can gather) in the 23

  1. Josh Hohneck
  2. Franco Marais
  3. Fraser Balmain
  4. Ed Slater
  5. Franco Mostert
  6. Ruan Ackerman
  7. Jaco Kriel
  8. Ben Morgan
  9. Willi Heinz
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Tom Marshall
  12. Mark Atkinson
  13. Billy Twelvetrees
  14. Charlie Sharples
  15. Jason Woodward
  16. Mike Sherry
  17. Val Rapava Ruskin
  18. Ruan Dreyer
  19. Tom Savage
  20. Lewis Ludlow
  21. Jake Polledri
  22. Ben Vellacott
  23. Henry Purdy

I’m sure could write a full article on the salary cap, in the meantime we wait for news on business ventures involving the Saracens owner Nigel Wray and players at the club.

To the game, the two teams were honours even going into the semi-final, a win apiece. Gloucester had brought lots of fans with them, they greeted their team with a wave of noise. David Strettle a Saracens favourite playing his last home game came onto the pitch with his 2 children to be greeted by applause from both sets of fans. He’ll be missed both on and off the pitch and really is retiring at the top of his game.

An emotional day for David Strettle

Gloucester shocked the home team with a try on just 2 minutes with Ben Morgan marauding down the wing, he was a sight to behold! The Gloucester fans were over the moon naturally. That elation died down just 2 minutes later when Saracens replied with a try for Sean Maitland. Billy Twelvetrees had converted the first try, Owen Farrell missed for the Saracens try. But a successful penalty kick from Farrell put Saracens ahead on 16 minutes.

The spotlight was on Prem Player of the Year Danny Cipriani

Ben Spencer, who came to Saracens from Cambridge rugby and has been in waiting for a regular rotation slot was next on the score sheet, I’d had my doubts about Spencer earlier in the season, but his kicking game has improved by some stretch and he really does have an eye for the try line.

Ben Spencer, named Man of The Match

Gloucester had plenty of possession throughout the game, in fact 55% to Saracens 45%, with the same percentages for territory, but for the most part they weren’t able to make the best of it. Alex Lozowski gathered a ball from a kick from Farrell in competition with Danny Cipriani, the ball found its way to Liam Williams on the wing, who went over for Saracens 3rd try. Having been rocked in the first minutes of the game Saracens went in leading by 23 to 7 at half time.

Captain Fantastic, as I like to call him, Brad Barritt had left the pitch with an injury in the first half to be replaced by Nick Tompkins, who remarkably was making his 100th appearance!

This 100th appearance was certainly one the 24 year old will remember, he has a habit of making his mark in big games and this was to be no exception. As Saracens really took control of the game the centre scored a hat-trick! Going over the line on 41, 49 and 55 minutes, all were converted by Farrell to give Saracens a commanding 44 points.

Tompkins truly punches above his weight, his 3rd try was one any forward would be proud of. You can see a few of them watching as he goes over the line.

After Gloucester’s initial try in the 2nd minutes Saracens had scored 44 unanswered points in 53 minutes and realistically taken away any hope of a place in the final for the visitors. However pride kept them going and an outrageous dummy from replacement prop Ruan Dreyer saw him touch down on 58 minutes. Twelvetrees converted the try.

Lewis Ludlow also on as a replacement powered over the line for Gloucester’s 3rd try, taking Owen Farrell in his wake. It was good to see Gloucester give the travelling contingent something to shout about. The final result was Saracens 44 Gloucester 19.

The mad rush for tickets happened after the match, Saracens will face Exeter Chiefs who finished top of the Premiership with 86 points. It’s good to see the teams who finished in the top 2 in the Final, here’s hoping for a great game!

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