ZURICH Premiership
Kingsholm   Friday 26 November 2004

Tough Break for Gloucester


Gloucester 24 Sale 14


GLOUCESTER GOT THE WIN they so badly wanted but they also got what they didn’t want. Yet another serious injury to add to the already substantial casualty list.
This time it was another key front row figure — on form Chris Fortey, who was stretchered off with a broken ankle, to join fellow top hooker Ollie Azam amongst the long term injured requiring surgery.
Add to this other front row members Phil Vickery and Terry Sigley, who are still missing and the Cherry and Whites are looking decidedly thin on the ground in the power house in particular.
Opponents Sale have similar shortages with absentees, caused by injuries and international call-ups, so this contest was more of an even match than recent games in that respect but it does highlight the potential problems caused by trying to manage a busy fixture list with a small squad. Whether this is brought about by financial constraints or the salary cap or an overcrowded season is another matter but it cannot be good for the club game in the long term.
On the positive side Gloucester did secure five valuable points from this welcome win, which coming after three depressing defeats, was a major tonic for the hard pressed coaching and backroom staff and the players before going back into the Heineken Cup competition.
Last week Jake Boer was a late withdrawal and this week Mark Cornwell had to pull out on match day, having injured his neck in training - hardly the ideal type of pre-match preparation for an important game but fair play the team rose to the challenge.

Byron Hayward gave the visitors an early lead with a straightforward penalty but Gloucester’s pack put in some sterling work to put pressure on the Sale defence. Alex Page and Simon Amor provided a more workmanlike half back partnership than of late and Marcel Garvey was on hand to gather a well weighted cross kick from Amor to gather the ball and evade the clutching hands of his opposite number Steve Hanley to score the first try.
Disaster struck in the twentieth minute when Chris Fortey was injured in a tackle from Sale’s big lock forward Dean Schofield. Referee Ashley Rowden immediately took both teams off the field when it was apparent that the injury was serious and the game was stopped for almost ten minutes.
Behind the scrum Gloucester threw the ball about with pace and enthusiasm but all too often were let down by poor handling and ball retention. Terry Fanolua was all hard work and honest endeavour but after having earlier spilled the ball a couple of times, he seized upon a palm inside from Garvey to charge in for a try which Amor converted.
Sale did manage to claw their way back into the game though and former Gloucester centre Robert Todd sliced through the home side’s poor cover defence to close the gap to 12-8 just before half-time.
The other Gloucester old boy, Byron Hayward kicked another penalty for Sale early in the second half but a period of sustained Gloucester pack pressure brought a third try scored by Fortey’s replacement James Parkes, who was driven over for a try which Amor converted. 19-11.
Full back Jon Goodridge enjoyed a better game than of late and got Gloucester’s bonus point try five minutes before the end which Amor converted from wide out. Byron Hayward did kick a further penalty for Sale but Gloucester took the full points in their first win since the Autumn internationals started.

Thank goodness Gloucester’s international trio are due back next week but the injury list is still a big worry with European competition taking centre stage next with Cardiff art Kingsholm in another evening fixture for Sky.

Tries: Garvey, Fanolua, Parkes, Goodridge
Conversions: Amor2
GLOUCESTER: J. Goodridge, M.Garvey, T. Fanolua, N.Mauger, S. Kiole,
S. Amor, A.Page,
C. Bezuidenhout, Rep: N. Wood, C.Fortey rep: J.Parkes, G. Powell,
A. Eustace, P. Buxton,
J. Boer, J. Forrester,
A. Balding

Referee - Ashley Rowden
Attendance 12,365


Gloucester 38 Sale 12 - - - Saturday 14 February 2004