Ken Dodd used to quip to rapturous applause, ‘By God I needed that’.
on from five successive Zurich Premiership League defeats, I am sure
the Gloucester crowd’s sentiments were very much the same at the end
of the match at Kingsholm.
After being comprehensively outplayed by Wasps and suffering the biggest
ever home League defeat and then being thumped at Bath and conceding
fifty points in the process, to say that the victory was more than
welcome was very much an understatement.
Rotherham have become the whipping boys of the Premiership in their
first season and despite showing plenty of spirit and hard work were
defensively still in a lower division, which is probably where they
will end up at the end of the season.
What of the Cherry and Whites? To say that the form this season has
been a bit of a roller coaster is perhaps a bit generous, as all too
often players have under performed.
On the face of it, with Kingsholm confidence at an all time low, this
fixture against the bottom of the table team was a potential banana
skin and there was touch of trepidation in the air.
The arrival of Andy Keast at Gloucester, a coach with proven top class
experience should help to galvanise the players and give the coaching
staff of Philippe and John Brain a bit more breathing space. Hopefully
the input of fresh ideas, especially for the sluggish back division,
could ease some of the end of season pressure and provide time to
It has become increasingly obvious this season that a coaching staff
of one full timer and a part timer, was never going to work in the
rarefied atmosphere of present day top professional rugby. I doubt
if any other Premiership has had such a shoe string coaching set-up.
win of 2001 will not be enough on its own to restore confidence and
self-belief but it could be a step in the right direction and perhaps
a turning point. in what has been a disappointing season.
Although Gloucester scored early on, thanks to some fine handling
with prop Phil Vickery turning up on the wing to set up Tom Beim for
a smart try, it was not all plain sailing as he left the field shortly
afterwards with an injury.
This brought on the young 18 year old James Simpson-Daniel. Highly
rated by all and sundry, ‘Sinbad’ proceeded to show just why he is
held in such high regard with a show of talent and skilful enterprise
with real pace. He was the victim of a high tackle from the Yorkshire
team’s skipper Mike Umaga but it did nothing to diminish his obvious
skills. He contrived to create a scoring pass for Chris Catling before
he got a brilliant individual try just before half-time. No wonder
the Shed were in good voice with their new found hero in such good
Jake Boer and Ollie Azam made powerful runs into the visitor’s territory
before Mark Cornwell got a try, benefiting with the scoring pass from
After the break Rotherham made a spirited brief fight-back and scored
a couple of simple tries before the home side pulled themselves together
to regain control.
A penalty try followed before Jason Little showed a touch of individual
class, sadly lacking for much of the season, to add to the try tally.
Gloucester have had more than their fair share of injuries this season
so it was good to see Robert Todd come on for his first league action
of the season after his horrific pre-season injury. Although not yet
match fit he marked his League debut scoring the seventh try, finishing
off a strong run from Terry Fanolua.
The biggest win of the season does not disguise the fact that Gloucester
are still some way short of the finished article—the genuine collective.
At least we could smile this week.