Shamed Saracens turn negative into a positive to beat Gloucester
London (AFP) –
Saracens ended the worst week in their history after a 35 point deduction and a fine of more than £5million ($6.4 million) for breaching the salary cap with a gritty 21-12 win over Gloucester in their Premiership clash on Saturday.
The English and European champions -- whose punishment is in abeyance until the outcome of their appeal -- have thrived on the negative energy directed at them said forwards coach Alex Sanderson.
Exeter chairman Tony Rowe -- whose side have lost the past two Premiership finals to Saracens -- and Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, have both said they should have been relegated.
However, Sanderson -- who was pursued down the touchline by Gloucester fans at the end of the match with the former England backrow forward pointing to the scoreboard to silence them -- preferred to use a pop analogy to describe his and the club's attitude to such calls.
"In the words of Taylor Swift the haters are going to hate, hate, hate and the players are going to play, play, play," the 40-year-old told BT Sport making a reference to the American star's hit Shake It Off.
"We have to accept the hate and crack on and play.
"I personally think it is misplaced and misguided but they are welcome to their opinions.
"We have used the negative energy directed at us this week and turned it on our opponents.
"I could not be more impressed by the players.
"People may hate us but we do not care."
The players had emerged for the match to a cacophony of boos from the Gloucester fans with some of the latter wearing fez style hats with -26 emblazoned on them -- the points total Saracens would be on prior to the game had they not appealed.
However, head coach Mark McCall had also taken measures to balance the booing by sending out the replacements to form a tunnel for the starting XV -- which included a lot of inexperienced players -- and applauding them onto the pitch.
A side -- lacking England World Cup stars such as Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell as well as the Vunipola brothers Mako and Billy -- were superbly marshalled by the vastly-experienced scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth.
The 36-year-old former England half-back is at the centre of the scandal as he is one of the players with whom Saracens chairman Nigel Wray set up a joint-owned company.
Wray claims it is a way of genuinely looking after his squad members' futures but the Premiership say it is a way of circumventing the £7 million salary cap.
Wigglesworth guided them to a comfortable 15-6 half-time lead.
Ben Earls' fourth try of the season in the second-half effectively put them out of reach and gave them only their fourth win at Gloucester in the Premiership and first since 2015.
Victory saw them rise to second in the table just a point off leaders Northampton, who lost 22-13 away at Bath.
Saracens have a breather from the domestic scene as they open their European defence in France against Racing 92 next weekend.
© 2019 AFP