COMFORTABLY IN CHARGE FOR
MOST OF THE TIME, Gloucester duly won without too much trouble. Newcastle
were game throughout but posed few real threats to the home side.
There was however an almighty uncomprimising battle
between the two sets of forwards in a brief war of attrition which
came close to matching the pre-match fireworks display. These exchanges
apart, the Cherry and Whites won with something to spare.
These days in the Premiership the winning side generally have the
better organised defence but by way of a change, Gloucester also had
the better attack on the day. Fortunately perhaps for the home side,
Newcastle were without their two highly rated centres, Jamie Noon
and Tom May. Top man, Jonny Wilkinson, had a competent afternoon rather
than an inspired one and consequently the visitors were invariably
forced on to the back foot.
The previous week at Northampton, Gloucester had struggled behind
the scrum with a marked lack of fluency and pace in mid-field.
This week they made a better fist of it. Perhaps it was because Jason
Little moved back to the inside centre berth but Simon Mannix varied
his game intelligently and helped create tries for Tom Beim and Jason
Little. The Newcastle pack never gave up but must have felt like the
proverbial Christmas turkeys waiting for the Paxo as they endured
a torrid time against the Gloucester eight.
The Cherry and Whites made a tremendous start and had points on the
board within minutes. The ball was re-cycled several times before
Mannix turned it back inside where winger Tom Beim was on hand to
take advantage of stretched cover defence and score the important
Junior Parramore won line out ball and was driven on by the pack before
the ball was worked back infield. Mannix fed Little and he squirmed
his way over for the second try.
Referees have always been much criticised, often deservedly, as their
decisions can have such a critical bearing on the outcome of the game
but it was good to see Tony Spreadbury attempt to provide some continuity
and let the game flow unlike the Northampton fixture where Mr Leyshon
never seemed to be in control. Mr Spreadbury did have his work cut
out when the two sets of forwards how they wanted to control the game.
More than just hand bags it all ended up with Kingsley Jones and Marius
Hurter having an enforced ten minute rest period in the sin-bin.
Newcastle never recovered from the home side's explosive start and
were not helped by the fact that for once Wilkinson had an off-day
with his kicking and missed a few penalties that normally he would
have kicked with his eyes closed.
Even allowing for Gloucester's recent poor second half showings, the
match was effectively over by the interval with Gloucester comfortably
in the lead at 20-3.
Gloucester sealed the match with an early second half try. Jake Boer
was once again conspicuous in the loose, before Andy Gomarsall sent
out a superb long pass to send Mark Cornwell over in the corner for
the third try.
The match gradually ebbed away but not before Jonny Wilkinson secured
a late consolation try for Newcastle. Gloucester missed out on the
bonus point which could prove costly at the end of the season.
Teams are so congested mid-table that with there being so little difference
between them every point will be vital to ensure qualification for
next season's European Cup competition.