At last a rare bonus-point win for the Cherry and Whites at Kingsholm but the match itself was like a mirror image of a season that is best forgotten.
It was the same old story of too many basic errors. Too many tackles missed, too much ball turned over and precious possession given away from a Gloucester defence that is now one of the poorest in the Premiership.
Although Gloucester managed their bonus-point victory as far as qualification for next season’s revamped top European competition Wasps’ win was enough to deny the hosts ambitions of a seat at the top European table. Unpalatable, but perhaps that in itself is no bad thing because realistically there is no doubt that the present Gloucester team is just not good enough to compete at the highest level.
This game with Irish was a real see-saw affair as each time Gloucester scored they almost immediately conceded a score to the opposition and were unable to stretch their lead but it did lead to an entertaining close run affair.
The hosts got off to a dream start with two well worked tries from Sione Kalamafoni and Charlie Sharples in the opening ten minutes to open up a 12 point lead before skipper Billy Twelvetrees was helped off with a serious looking ankle injury which could seriously dent his prospects for England’s tour to New Zealand.
However the visitors were soon back in contention thanks to the blistering raw pace of winger Marland Yarde who was a constant threat each time he was in possession as he outstripped the hosts’ defence to get his first try.
Charlie also departed with an injury but replacement wing Shane Monahan was next to score being driven over from a ruck close to the Irish line.17-5.
Towards the end of the first half the visitors gained more possession as referee Steve Lee, in his first Premiership appointment stamped his authority on proceedings by applying the latest RFU edict by sin-binning Jimmy Cowan for too much back chat adding to Gloucester’s poor disciplinary record.
That man Yarde was on target again for the visitors when he broke clear from attempted tackles for his second try to narrow the gap to 17-12 at the interval.
Fortunately Gloucester got the first try of the second half when the irrepressible Mike Tindall broke clear from halfway to put Monahan away for his second score and the bonus-point try as he brushed aside Yarde however within minutes sloppy play surrendered the ball and allowed Gerrard Ellis to break clear and score 22-17.
Freddie Burns slotted a penalty before Yarde got his hat-trick try and the conversion narrowed the gap to an agonising 25-24 before Irish took the lead for the first time with a simple penalty kick from Ian Humphreys. 25-27.
Thankfully Freddie restored the Gloucester advantage with a magnificent long range penalty from half-way with five minutes left but there were more points to come after sterling play from Mike Tindall won the ball and the ball was worked to Shane Monahan who got his hat trick try, Freddie converted from wide out 35-27.
Irish looked to have secured a late losing bonus point with a penalty from Myles Dorrian to close the gap before Freddie denied the visitors with the last kick of the game from in front of the posts.
Not a classic but this last home game of the season did at least provide some real entertainment but Gloucester are still more than capable of denting any confidence they may generate. It’s a good job it was Irish provided the opposition rather than any of the top of the table teams. Too many of the present squad do not live up to their reputations.
Premiership Rugby is becoming a game of 'haves and have nots' and Gloucester do not give the appearance
of a club with ample financial clout compared with the likes of Saracens and Bath squads.
Will the new players arriving next season be good enough and play well enough to make the club a serious contender for Premiership honours again? Half the matches at Kingsholm ended in defeat this season.
Time alone will tell but questions concerning the present coaching and support staff need to be answered by positive results on the pitch rather than hackneyed excuses in the media.
A trip to Sixways for the finale of this season will be interesting as the Cherry and Whites are usually made to struggle by Worcester and I am sure that although relegated, Worcester will again be a formidable challenge.
I live in hope, but not much!
P.S. How good not to have the endless T.M.O. referalls!
Thank goodness the Irish defence was worse than Gloucester’s! If there was ever a case for a new Defence Coach it was seen today; there was more holes in it than a ton of Polo Mints and apart from the dour line across the pitch when defending in the 22 there seemed to be no system or structure. Duggie Woodman appears to have stopped the rot in the scrum but unless there is some fresh ideas in defence Gloucester will not feature in the top half of the division next season and could very well be relegation candidates.
It is probably churlish to complain when five tries are scored but I don’t think that the code breakers at GCHQ could work out what Gloucester’s game plan was. Under Nigel Davies’ stewardship Gloucester have become little more than a pillaging rabble. Yes we have a running full back but is that by design or because the current incumbent can’t kick or pass to save his life. The only time I noticed Ben Morgan was late in the second half when I saw Savage warming up and tried to remember who was playing at number eight.
Next week Worcester where I fear the worst. In the past I would have said “roll on next season” but I cannot see how it is going to improve without radical change starting at board level and working down.
Well this match definitely summed up the season. Glos played for 60 minutes as if they were going to run up 40 plus points then managed to give control of the last 20 minutes to the opposition. This has happened far too many times this season, le'ts hope after next weeks game the boys take time to reflect and re-cooperate.
The friends I travelled to the game with said afterwards that they had gone through all the emotions one can have during the match, the highs and the all too often this season, lows. A game that swung from the Cherry & Whites having a secure 5 points in the bag to one were they were hanging on for 2. A game were there was a lot of effort but little to show for it, some players stood out above others and yet again Ellliot Stooke showed what a gem Glos have and hopefully will see flourish even more next season.
Nigel Davies said a big thank you to the supporters and it shows what a great bunch we are, as yet again nearly 15,000 of us turned out in what has been an up and down season. It has been a season to forget, one that hopefully the coaching and playing staff will look at and learn from the mistakes and misfortunes. No more excuses of "it wasn't acceptable", but hopefully next season ...
Players will come and go but the faithful will turn up week in,week out. Lets hope the promised revival of the Cherry & Whites fortunes will come to fruition next season.
Charlie Sharples, Mike Tindall, Billy Twelvetrees (capt), Jonny May;
Freddie Burns, Jimmy Cowan;
Yann Thomas, Huia Edmonds, Sila Puafisi; Elliott Stooke, Will James;
Sione Kalamafoni, Matt Kvesic, Ben Morgan
Dan George, Dan Murphy, Shaun Knight, Tom Savage, Tom Young,
Dan Robson, Billy
Meakes, Shane Monahan
Try: Sharples, Kalamafoni , Monahan (3)
Con: Twelvetree, Burns
Pen: Burns (3)
Referee - Steve Lee
Attendance - 14,915
Gloucester Matches - Reports. - Seasons 2001- 2014
Gloucester Matches - Premiership Reports v London Irish
Gloucester Matches - Premiership Record v London Irish
Gloucester Matches - Premiership Kingsholm Record
Gloucester Matches - Kingsholm Attendances
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