Cherry and Whites fight back
Gloucester stun Sale
Gloucester 34 Sale 27
Saturday, September 13 2014 - 1500hrs
At half-time with Sale having a comfortable deserved 17-6 lead, the sad fact was that in their first two hours of Premiership rugby this season, the Cherry and Whites had conceded no less than eleven tries without scoring one in reply and had not got into their opponents 22 at all or even looked like scoring a try.
After last week’s mauling at Northampton a win was vital and in the end a win is what Gloucester got. The first half performance was ineffectual and I don’t remember Gloucester actually playing in Sale’s 22 during that period which seemed a duplicate performance from the week before. The line-out was unpredictable and the back play unremarkable with Sale winning the battle at the ruck. So by half time they looked like a beaten side which at best could try to get close the visitors score at the final whistle.
Something happened at half time because they came out with new vigour aided and abetted by Sale gifting soft penalties to put Gloucester in striking range of 17 Sale points on the board. Whether it was Sinbad’s emotional speech patched through to the changing room or inspirational words from the coaching team or something in the tea we shall probably never find out but whatever it was it worked. Gloucester clawed it back to 17 all. Even the Sale penalty which gave them back the lead did not stifle Gloucester who continued to put the points on the board. At the final whistle with 27 points added to Gloucester’s total the victory was achieved. Make no mistake however that there was no “road to Jericho” moment and the impact of the new regime was difficult to identify. There is a lot of work to be done until Kingsholm can claim to be a fortress once more.
A good team performance but the stand out player by a country mile was Danny Cipriani who was outstanding.
Rugby is a simple game when played to the coach's instructions. Win the ball from scrum or line-out, carry the ball forward, sometimes passing, take the tackle and repeat. Not difficult is it, working through some simple instructions and phases.
Unfortunately in the first half the Cherry & Whites didn't either have these instructions or didn't want to follow them. A Sale try in the first minute seemed all to reminiscent of last season, and what followed in the first half looked remarkably like last week all over again. Laurie Fisher has said that the team need to change their mindset, well I don't know if Laurie is a brain surgeon but there was certainly a change of mindset in the second half.
Gloucester came out and spent most of the first 10 minutes of the second half in Sale's 22, something they hadn't managed once in the first half 6-17 soon became 17-17 and Gloucester were in command. What was said or done at half-time had worked, maybe this has to be said before the game begins on Friday, as Exeter will be a totally different kettle of fish.
Don't get me wrong all has not suddenly changed and Gloucester are not Champion material, there is still a lot of work to be done, but small steps. As they say 'How do you eat an Elephant?' - in small pieces.The scrum looked better and when we played a simple game of win the ball and keep it for a number of phases Gloucester looked good.
A well deserved win, which will give the team a lot of confidence, and bring in those sceptical supporters who weren't there yesterday. Friday night will be a packed house and the atmosphere should be electric, lets hope the team can take a few more steps along the road to making Kingsholm a Fortress again. Please listen to the coaching staff, change the mindset and play a simple game. there was Pride and Passion at Kingsholm yesterday both on and off the pitch long may it continue.