Zurich Premiership
Saturday 30 April 2005
Key decisions go against Gloucester
Saracens sneak win at the end
Gloucester 13 Saracens 14

KINGSHOLM’S PROPOSED NEW STAND and the outcome of the key relegation battles up and down the country, were the main topics of conversation before the match with Saracens, the Premiership’s side-show attraction .
When referee David Rose blew the final whistle for no-side, his name was on everyone’s lips. Referees are frequently the butt of derisory criticism from fans—very often unfairly it must be said but on this occasion not without some justification. Gloucester’s defeat at the hands of Saracens—their first league win in fifteen visits to Kingsholm—was not unexpected on recent form but the result hinged on two key decisions.
The first after just ten minutes of the first half when an ill directed Gloucester kick deep into the visitors’ half was run back 50 yards by Thomas Castaignede who provided a very suspect pass to fellow Frenchman Raphael Ibanez who in turn off-loaded to winger Ben Johnston who got the first try under the posts.
The second hard decision was ten minutes before the end when Gloucester were penalised for pulling down a driving maul and although no warnings had previously been issued and a try was by no means a certainty, this particular official, unlike some others, immediately awarded a penalty try, which effectively handed the match result to Saracens.
It should be said that the touch-judges were of little assistance to Mr Rose throughout but all in all the referee looked out of his depth, just as he did at Newcastle! It makes you realise just how good the top officials such as Messrs Lander, Pearson, Spreadbury and White really are.
The frustrating part for Cherry and White fans was that once again the goal kicking was woeful as three straight-forward penalty chances went begging and that ultimately cost the match.
Both sides found it difficult to understand some of the referee’s interpretations throughout the game and consequently the whole match was disjointed with very little continuity at all in an error strewn encounter.
Duncan McRae did give Gloucester an early lead with a successful penalty kick before the first suspect Saracens try.
Saracens seemed content to play to a very limited simple game-plan based around their robust pack and made few attempts to string any moves together and were happy with a 7-3 lead at the break.
Gloucester were less happy with even more injuries, losing outstanding forward Andy Hazell, being replaced by Luke Narraway and full back Jon Goodridge with a shoulder injury was replaced by Olly Morgan, and James Forrester moved into the centre on the half hour.
Terry Fanolua was also replaced in the second half by scrum half Alex Page who went on the wing.

There was no shortage of spirit or effort from Gloucester on this occasion and when Sarries’ captain Hugh Vyvyan was sin-binned the home side did conjure up a try to add to McRae’s second penalty.
The ball was moved along the line where Forrester found just enough room for impressive young winger James Bailey to create the vital break for Olly Morgan to score in the corner. McRae added the conversion to put Gloucester back in the lead at 13-7 after 65 minutes.
However inside the final ten minutes Forrester was sent to the sin-bin and shortly after Saracens got their harshly awarded winning score and Gloucester suffered an undeserved sixth defeat at Kingsholm .
The Premiership league programme is now completed and it is over to the little loved Wild-card competition with Newcastle next to visit Kingsholm.
After this injury ravaged, sad and sorry season, I wonder if Gloucester will be able to field a fully competitive side?

This season has been most notable for too many key players having been crocked, allowing too many journeymen and young hopefuls, yet to fulfil their potential, to play but fall short of the required standard.
On a happier note, it was good to see Duggie Woodman, with Phil Vickery at the match. Those two, with Ollie Azam, really did make up a strong front row to be reckoned with - a true powerful physical presence.
How times have changed—now is the time for a few team changes.
Clearly the present squad is not strong enough.

Try .Morgan
Conversion. McRae
Penalties.McRae 2

J.Goodridge rep.J Forrester
O.Morgan, J.Simpson-Daniel, T.Fanolua rep.A.Page, J.Bailey
D.McRae, A.Gomarsall
N.Wood rep.T.Sigley, M.Davies rep. OAzam, G.Powell
A.Brown, A.Eustace
J.Boer rep.P.Buxton, A.Balding, A.Hazell rep. L.Narraway

Referee - D.Rose

Attendance - 13,000

Gloucester 30 Saracens 7
- Saturday 27 September 2003