Sinbad keeps Gloucester on top
London Irish 11 Gloucester 22
MADEJSKI STADIUM AT READING has never been one of the more popular or
profitable trips away
from Kingsholm but this time the Cherry and Whites almost
got it right, with a well earned win in a match that was anything but
an outstanding advert for Premiership rugby.
As ever this season, Gloucester could only mange to perform for about
half the duration of the game but did enough to win without ever getting
into top gear to maintain top spot in the league and remain unbeaten in
Although Irish did not have too much to offer, Gloucester again failed
to capitalise on their obvious edge and missed out on a bonus point for
the seventh time this season.
Another weekend with the Guinness Premiership devalued by the continued
absence caused by the Autumn Internationals in addition to the clubs’
growing injury lists, which make a mockery of the so-called concern for
player burn-out – sadly sacrificed at the altar of commercialism.
Gloucester may not be able to play top power rugby for eighty minutes
but at least this week they got off to a flyer and played their best rugby
in the first quarter.
Gloucester scored two cracking tries during that period the first originated
when Ollie Azam robbed a Irish line-out before the ball was taken on by
the forwards before Rory Lawson broke clear and off-loaded to winger James
Bailey whose strength took him over for the try which Willie Walker converted.
visitors soon added to that score with another as Alex Brown won a line-out
for Azam to peel round on the loop to find Lawson with a well timed pass
and the Scot crossed for the second try.
Irish were then able to get back into the game through a series of mistakes
and wrong options by Gloucester saw the momentum ebb away as the home
side drove up-field before Barry Everitt got some points on the board
with a penalty after thirty minutes. 12-3.
Gloucester’s defence was in good shape all evening and Irish had little
ambition or flair and resorted to driving play before kicking to breach
the cover defence. Riki Flutey touched down from a chip ahead, although
he appeared to have knocked the ball on in scoring. The easy conversion
was missed. 12–8.
Ryan Lamb’s touch kicking suffered for a time and although Jake Boer was
only just short of the Irish line before penalty kicks at goal followed
at either end, the score remained the same at the interval.
The first score after the break was absolutely key to the outcome of the
match and although Gloucester continued to try and play expansive rugby,
the execution was not up to standard as both teams struggled to master
the wet conditions and it was Willie Walker who eased the visitors into
a 15-8 lead with the final twenty minutes to go.
Mistakes continued to grow and the second half became very much a comedy
of errors and Everitt narrowed the gap to 15-11 with another penalty as
replacements followed thick and fast.
You sensed that it would take one mistake to decide the issue and so it
turned out. Although the Irish pack managed to hold on to the ball for
long periods that eventually proved to be their undoing.
A loose pass from Mike Catt was kicked ahead but James Simpson-Daniel
spectacularly seized the ball and he raced away from close on half-way
to seal the match and break the Irish hearts as he had done so in the
European Challenge Cup Final at Twickenham Stoop earlier this year.
There were no slip-ups from the Cherry and Whites with Ryan Lamb regaining
his composure to make his touch kicks tell when it mattered as the visitors
finished on top.
This was another workmanlike display from a Gloucester side who never
reached top form but a very good win none the less.
It owed a good deal to the emerging talent of scrum half Rory Lawson who
impressed throughout and it was good to see Mike Tindall enter the fray
in the second period after his long injury lay-off.
Two wins during the key November international period is encouraging but
it is disappointing that Gloucester still seem unable to inflict the killer
blow to finish opponents off and get the extra points.
was dug, the last rites had been read and the London Irish body lay
prostrate awaiting the killer blow.
Unfortunately none of the fifteen players in Cherry & Whites could reach
an agreement as to how it was to be delivered and similar to Lazarus,
London Irish rose from the dead.
The instrument of execution lay in the three quarters who when they
had the ball tore the home team defence to pieces. Sadly after two tries
scored, Gloucester decided to improvise.
Top of the table and no games lost but equally as important, no bonus
points. The latter commodity was definitely on offer but was once again
Perhaps they'll learn how to be ruthless in the second half of the season.
:-Bailey, Lawson, Simpson-Daniel Con: Walker(2), Penalties: Walker
J.Bailey rep.(O.Morgan), H.Keil rep. (H.Thomas), J.Adams rep (M.Tindall),
P.Collazo (rep.J.Forster), O.Azam (rep.R.Elloway), C.Califano
A.Brown , A.Eustace
P.Buxton (C), J.Boer, L.Narraway ( rep.A.Balding)
Referee: - D. Pearson
Attendance - 9,880