Mark McCall relieved Saracens avoided another glum night in Gloucester
Director of rugby Mark McCall thought Saracens were going to succumb to another last-gasp defeat to Gloucester until Owen Farrell's penalty lifted his side to a 17-15 victory at Kingsholm.
Last season, Gloucester triumphed 24-23 thanks to James Hook's penalty with the last kick of the game and a repeat looked to be on the cards when Billy Twelvetrees booted his fifth three-pointer to give the hosts a 15-14 lead with five minutes remaining.
However, Farrell, who returned to the starting line-up on Friday, slotted home his fourth penalty to seal the win for Saracens, much to the relief of McCall.
"It was a war of attrition out there," he said. "It wasn't pretty to watch and I thought it was going to be a repeat of last year's titanic struggle and last-minute defeat when Twelvetrees fired over that late penalty.
"Gloucester will be very difficult to beat this year. They are a real handful and very physical.
"I am delighted with the away win as it was a job well done, we lost many of the 50-50 collisions in the first half but we had more control in the second.
"It showed the character of the team, that we were able to come back in the last five minutes to secure the winning penalty."
There was little between the teams and a draw would have been a fairer result, but Saracens did score the only try of the game through Mike Ellery . Farrell kicked three penalties and Charlie Hodgson one.
Gloucester had the more creative runners in Charlie Sharples and Jonny May, but overdid the kicking so the hosts had to rely on five penalties from Twelvetrees for their points.
Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys said the defeat was hard to take.
"There is huge disappointment in the dressing room - it's the most physical performance we've put in for the last 15 months," he said.
"We knew it would be tough but small mistakes and small decisions cost you when you play against a top side like Saracens.
"There were a lot of positives in our performance but they find a way to win the game as they are incredibly difficult to play against with an excellent kicking game."
Gloucester skipper Twelvetrees agreed with the view of his coach, adding: "We are building a lot of good things here and we believe we were good enough to win the game
"However we made a few vital errors and it cost us the result."