Saturday 12 April 2008

Willie Walker;
Iain Balshaw, James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Lesley Vainikolo;
Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson;
Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell, Carlos Nieto,
Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown,
Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway.
Reps: Olivier Azam, Jack Forster,
Gareth Delve, Will James,
Gareth Cooper, Chris Paterson, Jack Adams.

Referee -Rob Debney
Attendance - 12,354

Cherry and Whites hit Sarries for six
Lamb to the slaughter
Gloucester 39 Saracens 15

HARD ON THE HEELS of the Heineken Cup competition and its disappointment, it was back to Guinness Premiership action with a performance and a result from Gloucester which went a long way to revive flagging morale at Kingsholm.
Recent results have done nothing to create confidence and with visitors Saracens having had an inspired performance to overcome Ospreys in their Heineken clash a tough tussle was expected with the Premiership play-offs looming large.
This week a changed Gloucester team got it right and ran out comfortable winners, thanks very much to an inspired showing from Ryan Lamb which helped provide momentum to a side that has under-performed all too often this year.
We all know that Lamb is very much something of an enigma.
When he is good he can be very good.
Unfortunately there are times when he has been let down by inconsistency but against Sarries he got most things right and accordingly Gloucester prospered.
If Saracens had been more accurate they could have taken an early lead when Dan Scarborough broke clear but the chance went begging and Gloucester soon made them pay for their carelessness within minutes with their first score.
Akupusi Qera and Mike Tindall made in-roads through visitors territory before full back Willie Walker delivered the perfect pass to James Simpson-Daniel and he did the rest to claim the first try. Lamb converted.
The impressive Qera was next to score as a long pass from Iain Balshaw set the Fijian flanker free. 12-0.
The visitors tried to raise their game and scrummaged well but Marco Bortolami and Alex Brown controlled the line-outs but all Sarries had to show for their efforts was a solitary penalty from Glen Jackson which was cancelled out by a Lamb penalty on the stroke of half-time. 15-3.
With the second half Gloucester got off to a perfect start and within five minutes were virtually home and dry with a bonus-point in the bag thanks to Lamb who bagged 14 points.
Lambís first try saw him step the defence with ease, before his second saw him intercept and his solo run in from inside his own half, just as he had done at Watford earlier in the season, earned him the score. 29-3.
There was no way back for Sarries as a fine passage of play ended with Lesley Vainikolo flattening Scarborough on his rampaging way to the line.34-3.
Replacement Gareth Delve added plenty of go-forward as Sarries lost lock Tom Ryder to the sin-bin before Rory Lawson went over following a scrum. 39-3.
That completed Gloucesterís scoring but as the home side eased up Saracens were game enough to get two tries but for the Cherry and Whites, a lively Guinness tasted better than flat Heineken.
Qera had his best outing of the season as did Marco Bortolami but the captain was obliged to leave the field with an injury.
On the day Saracens looked a shadow of the side that beat Ospreys but for once the Cherry and Whites looked more of a competent team than a bunch of talented mis-fits.
Whether this Gloucester side is good enough to go all the way is another matter but orchestrated by an on-song Ryan Lamb the team seemed more in harmony, whilst the performance unlike others this year, was encouraging.
T.H. 13/4/2008

Pricey's Postscript
In seven days we have witnessed a difference as stark as day and night. Last week the intensity was breathtaking with the adrenal gland at overload. In contrast this week's game, whilst hugely entertaining, was as if it was an exhibition game.
That said, Gloucester exorcised the demons which had haunted their performances since Christmas. The ruck and maul was properly contested, the lineout was secure and there was pace in the line from forwards and backs alike.
The final score betrayed the truth - Gloucester could have easily run out winners at 50 or 60 points but that doesn't matter; what matters was they played with pace, aggression and heart.

J.G.P. - 12/4/2008
At long last a semblance of our early season form, players rejuvenated on drier grounds, unlike the Munster match the second and back row joined the front row in a determined unit.
Ryan Lamb who once again found the vigour of his youth and Saracens as usual were put to the sword at Kingsholm.
We deserve to finish on a high for we have led the way all season. Saracens were outplayed at the breakdown and contact areas.
This was a tonic and certainly the way to bounce back from the Munster disappointment.
This is a vital period of the season where we need our important and influential players fit, fingers crossed!
Dave King. - 13/4/2008
Well, they say a week is a long time in politics.
Who would have thought that after last weeks Heineken Cup results that Saracens, winners over Ospreys, would succumb to a Gloucester side laid to rest by the team work of the mighty Munster.
Last week I said players had to stand up and be counted, well stand up the entire team, a total team performance, led by the ringmaster Ryan Lamb and ably supported by Captain Bortolami, probably playing his best game of the season.
I have to say I was disappointed with Sarries play, I expected a lot more, but they were probably basking in the glory of last weeks win. Credit to the Cherry and Whites though, there were no hangovers from last weeks defeat, a truly cohesive game plan worked.
The return of Mike Tindall has made a big difference, his experience and leadership has been sorely missed. The Cherry and Whites are back and firing on all cylinders, with Ryan Lamb leading the parade, we looked so much better as a unit rather than a group of individuals.
Three more games plus the play-off semi final, a trip to Twickenham is on the cards.
More of the same please and who knows maybe a piece of silverware at last.
Tries: Simpson-Daniel, Qera, Vainikolo, Lamb(2), Lawson
Con: Lamb(3). Penalty: Lamb
H.T. 15-3
Match Reports 2007-08