Olly Morgan rep. W.Walker;
Leon Lloyd rep.Iain Balshaw. , Mike Tindall rep. Akapusi Qera, Anthony Allen,
Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson;
Nick Wood rep. Christian Califano , Andy Titterrell rep.Olivier Azam , Carlos
Will James rep. Marco Bortolami , Alex Brown,
Peter Buxton (capt), Alasdair Strokosch, Luke Narraway.
Rep: Mike Prendergast,
I don't know what the agreed game plan
was but I'm pretty sure it didn't include the constant kicking away of possession
which we witnessed in the first half. It was if it was infectious - first
one then another and then another, ad nauseam.
Sale didn't really have a lot to offer but one of their plus points was their
ball retention and it seemed that Gloucester were intent on giving them as
much practice as possible in perfecting that art.
Time and time again Gloucester broke the Sale defensive line only to gamble
on a speculative kick ahead in search of a try rather than rely on support
and recycle the ball to continue the attack.
Dean Ryan must have threatened a firing squad to anyone who continued in the
madness in the second half and for 20 minutes Gloucester played with the pace
and ruthless efficiency that had earned them the previous four wins.
Sadly the final 20 minutes did not match those preceding them.
That said everyone had their good moments, some more than others but only
Anthony Allen in the backs had a good all round game.
and Whites make it five from five
Gloucester miss bonus point
Gloucester 31 Sale 12
WIN IS A WIN.
But why oh why in the first half, did Gloucester kick away precious
possession with predictable monotonous regularity?
There is nothing wrong with a kicking game. It can be an astute tactic
but as employed by Gloucester it was all too often inefficient and
A kicking game has to be accurate to be profitable but all too often
Gloucester’s kicking game failed to find touch and secure territory.
For long periods, especially in the early stages, the key axis of
Rory Lawson and Ryan Lamb did not perform. Lamb is not renowned for
his kicking out of hand and against Sale did little to improve the
situation and Lawson looked painfully short of match practice.
It must be understood that Lamb was not the only culprit with the
boot as too many other players struggled with poor kicks down-field.
Generally the home side’s play was shapeless and disjointed compared
with their game at Leicester with too much individual enterprise with
only instances of cohesive team play.
The Cherry and Whites, unbeaten at the top of the Guinness Premiership
table, could only manage four penalties from Lamb during the first
half whereas Sale somehow managed to score two tries.
Fortunately for the home side Sale’s Charlie Hodgson, unlike the previous
week against Wasps, did not have his best kicking boots on and missed
penalties and attempted drop kicks.
The visitors were severely hampered by the loss of their heavyweight
forwards on R.W.C duty and Gloucester’s pack began to build momentum
but were let down by indifferent finishing. However Sale did get the
first score of the afternoon when prop Benoit Bourrust emerged from
a ruck to almost sneak over the line with scarcely a hand being laid
on him. Hodgson’s attempted conversion hit the post.
Lamb also missed his first kick at goal but then put Gloucester into
the lead with four penalties before Sale broke away to snatch a sharp
try on the stroke of half time through Oriol Ripol which levelled
the scores at 12-12
Gloucester pack did begin to exert some authority after the break
and Sale were content to offend to slow the ball down before eventually
their lock Sean Cox was sin-binned.
Gloucester made the visitors pay with two tries from wing Leon Lloyd
thanks to Nick Wood in the first instance, followed by good work from
Anthony Allen and Mike Tindall for the second try.
With the score now at 24-12 Gloucester were going forward with more
purpose and when replacement hooker Ollie Azam turned the ball over
Ryan Lamb was able to find replacement winger Iain Balshaw on the
wing and he made ground before he put full back Olly Morgan away to
Restored to full strength, Sale mounted a period of sustained pressure
with many phases of possession but to their credit the Gloucester
defence held firm.
31 –12 Gloucester were within sight of a bonus try but although Anthony
Allen appeared to have put Balshaw in for a score his pass was adjudged
to be forward.
There was no shortage of effort from Gloucester in the dying minutes
but too many hurried solo efforts and the opportunities were missed.
Will James got through a lot of hard work and once again Gloucester’s
front row was on top with both Titterrell’s all round play and Azam’s
physical power conspicuous in tight and loose. Such is their form
it does beg the question whether the signing of Australian Jeremy
Paul was absolutely necessary?
Gloucester’s pack is shaping up very nicely but behind the scrum against
Sale the backs looked like a collection of players rather than a ‘collective’.
A curate's egg of a match for Gloucester.
Some parts were good, whilst other parts were very much not so good
but the Cherry and Whites are still unbeaten and still winning without
being able to put together a full eighty minutes of error –free rugby.
Not one of the better performances from Gloucester at Kingsholm. It
was very much a case of a bonus point that got away.
- Lloyd (2) Morgan
- Lamb (2) Penalties- Lamb (4)