Lee's spark fires finale

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Saracens 19

Gloucester 16

THE word "Pinnacle" is emblazoned on Saracens' shirts, but on the evidence of yesterday's match against Gloucester neither they nor their opponents will get anywhere near it in Courage League One this season.

This clash between two teams who had mustered only six points between them before yesterday's game, manifested all the classic symptoms of Relegation Fever; it was a near terminal case of thud and blunder. So eager were both teams to secure the vital two points that they snatched at passes and committed numerous handling errors.

That is not to say that it was not exciting. The teams were well matched in mediocrity, and it went right down to the wire. Saracens only drew level eight minutes from the end when Andy Lee sent out a long pass to Martin Gregory who ran through his opposite number before putting in a pin-point chip and beating the cover to score. On the stroke of full- time, Lee struck the winning penalty after Gloucester, stuck in their own half, had killed the ball.

It was Gloucester, though, who started more brightly. After the stand- offs had exchanged kicks, Tim Smith broke down the left wing and kicked through to within a couple of metres of the Saracen line. From the ensuing line-out, the burly prop Tony Windo exhibited traditional Gloucester forward virtues - the team do not have "Rhino" printed on the back of their track suits for nothing - and burrowed over. Smith converted from the touchline, before adding two penalties which took Gloucester further ahead.

Saracens, however, could teach Bruce Willis a thing or two about Die Hard attitudes. Led by the rampaging wing-forwards John Green and Richard Hill, the home team crawled their way back to set up the thrilling finale. Gloucester were in Saracens' half for a mere eight minutes in the second period.

Scrapping, though, is no substitute for skill. If they can, both teams should grab their chequebooks and their trolleys as soon as possible for a spree in rugby's gleaming new transfer market.

Saracens: A Tunningley; M Gregory, J Buckton, S Ravenscroft, P Butler; A Lee, B Davies (capt); R Andrews, G Botterman, G Holmes, M Langley, M Burrow, J Green, R Hill, A Diprose.

Gloucester: L Osborne; P Holford, M Roberts, D Caskie, T Smith; M Kimber, E Fenley; T Windo, P Greening, A Martin, S Devereux, D Sims (capt), R Fidler, I Smith, C Raymond.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).

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