Cherry and Whites made to suffer
Gloucester second best
Gloucester 16 Sale 22
Kingsholm - Saturday, September 7, 2013

After the promise of last season the bubble of optimism and expectation was burst and went down like a lead balloon as the Cherry and Whites were well beaten by a Sale side that few had given any chance of success before the game but were firmly in command when it mattered in the match.
Perhaps Gloucester believed all the media hype of being top four contenders but on this showing wins will be in short supply this season. It could be argued that the home side suffered at the hands of poor decisions by the match officials but that should not disguise the fact that they were never in control and looked a hapless, or should it be hopeless side, for most of the match especially as they were reduced to fourteen men twice during the game. A man short for twenty minutes is a huge burden to overcome.
Gloucester struggled to get their hands on the ball from the start, laboured in both scrum and lineout with limited go-forward poses the old question as to whether the current pack is good enough. On the back foot for long periods, starved of good ball, and forced to live off scraps the backs failed to shine with precious possession being kicked away and only full back Rob Cook providing any confidence.
Sale were far sharper in the early exchanges with an early Macleod penalty followed by a try awarded by the TMO from evergreen Mark Cueto who profited from a suspect looking forward pass with the only reply from the hosts was a penalty from Freddie Burns.
Gloucester were all at sixes and sevens up front and their cause was not helped when Nick Wood was yellow-carded and whereas Burns missed two long range kicks at goal, Sale’s Tom Arscott kicked two from half-way to set the interval score at 14-3 to the visitors with the hosts never looking like crossing the line.
Nothing seemed to go Gloucester’s way but there were some signs of improvement when Akapusi Qera joined the fray to replace England international Ben Morgan who failed to life up to his reputation as did newcomer Matt Kvesic.
Gloucester were made to suffer again at the hands of the TMO when a try was awarded for Sale’s Andy Forsyth who appeared to chase the ball from an off-side position before Billy Twelvetrees also received his marching orders for an ill-judged clumsy tackle.

At last in the final quarter Gloucester showed signs of raising their game as Sale seemed to be tiring and Henry Trinder cut a fine line to cross. Burns added the extras and then narrowed the gap with two penalties to provide some hope but when Sale took play downfield they were able to get a snap drop goal from replacement fly half Joe Ford to restore their six point lead.
Gloucester pressed forward and when they were awarded a penalty close to the Sale line, for some strange reason, despite never being able to dominate the set-piece all afternoon, they elected to go for a scrum rather than a tap and go. Not surprisingly they lost the scrum and the chance was missed and Sale celebrated. They hadn’t played much rugby but they had done the job showing more nous and were too streetwise in the closing stages.
Gloucester’s much vaunted England squad contingent looked anything but sharp and for all the pace and talent behind the scrum, without possession, there is not much you can do without the ball.

Early days in the long Premiership campaign and not the start for the Cherry and Whites anyone expected but the worry is the manner of the defeat. Let us hope this is a wake up call as there are much better teams than Sale to meet during the course of the season.
Gloucester Rugby tell us 'The Boys are Back', perhaps they should have told the men to turn up at Kingsholm. What a let down!
Pricey's Postmortem
The dictionary definitions of “shambles” (noun) are a place of carnage, a mess or muddle. When describing events at Kingsholm this afternoon I believe the latter is the more accurate. It applies equally to Gloucester’s effort, their defence, their front five, their decision making, the scrum, the referee’s interpretation of the scrum and last but not least the TMO’s understanding of being in front of the kicker viz. The offside law.

Gloucester played the first twenty minutes as if it was a training ground practice. Robson & Cooke had kicks charged down deep in their 22 and players stood on their heels rather than on their toes; lifeless verging on torpor. Their defence was equally dull and lifeless and both of the alleged tries came from first phase ball. The front five were totally outplayed in both tight and loose and would have come off second best in an arse kicking contest with a one legged man. Decisions were, it seems, written on the tactics whiteboard in the dressing room. Given the chance and opportunity I believe they would have wanted to refer some of them to the TMO.

The scrum or as they say down Tredworth, plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose!! The new scrum laws seem no different to the old ones; only the words change. “Touch” has been replaced with “bind” and “engage” has been replaced with “set”. The hit remains and the pushing starts on “set” and the ball still goes in crooked. Oh, and I forgot, Gloucester’s front three still get mullered.

As regards the TMO, well, he must have had a poor TV monitor or he suffers from an acute astigmatism. I could cope with his decision regarding the forward pass which revolves all around which way the hands are pointing rather than the direction of the ball but his decision re. The offside at the kick is beyond comprehension.

Tavis Knoyle and Elliot Stooke must start next week and Nigel Davies needs to be out looking for a new tight head.

J.G.P 7/9/2013

Well another opening game and another defeat, same old Gloucester always losing.
Johnny May was interviewed in the Shogun Bar before the game and was asked if Sale were a threat or were Glos going to beat the easily, his answer was along the lines of everybody starts on an equal footing and it could be anybody's game. He did however hint that Glos should win.
Well I think his feelings were very much those of every Cherry& White supporter, on paper this should have been a 5 point win, but paper and grass are different textures and Sale proved that it is on the grass where the work and effort comes into play. Sale had come with a game plan to thwart Glos, who themselves didn't seem to have a game plan. Let's kick the ball aimlessly back to the opposition and wait and see what happens.
The new scrum law is supposed to keep the game flowing but the same old problems are still there, collapsing scrums, delay in feeding and crooked feeds, oh and the referees understanding of the law. However Glos can't blame Mr Small, as bad as he was, because they were second best on the day. Glos were poor and Sale capitalised on that, and didn't complain when awarded two dubious tries.
I passed Johnny May leaving the ground he looked in a hurry to distance himself from the aftermath. Oh his fellow interviewee Jimmy Cowan said that Glos have set a target of a top 2 finish, not on this type of performance, more like a bottom two finish.
Onwards and upwards, Sarries away next weekend on paper a defeat, and as they don't play on grass the result could go either way.
Mike - 'Disappointed of Didcot'.


Rob Cook;
Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder, Billy Twelvetrees, James Simpson-Daniel;
Freddie Burns, Dan Robson;
Nick Wood, Darren Dawidiuk, Rupert Harden;
Tom Savage (capt), Lua Lokotui;
Sione Kalamafoni, Matt Kvesic, Ben Morgan

Dan George, Dan Murphy, Yann Thomas, Elliott Stooke, Akapusi Qera,
Tavis Knoyle, Mike Tindall, Martyn Thomas

Try: Trinder
Con: Burns
Pens: Burns (3)

Yellow Cards -
Nick Wood, Billy Twelvetrees

Gloucester Matches - Reports versus Sale

Gloucester Matches - Premiership Record versus Sale

Gloucester - Premiership - KINGSHOLM RECORD

Gloucester-Kingsholm Premiership Attendances -1996-2013