Enough to win but not enough to impress
Kingsholm Parker Pen SHIELD Saturday 29 September 2001
Gloucester 34 La Rochelle 15
A WIN for the Cherry and Whites at the first hurdle of the European Shield was welcome but as a whole the victory did not inspire huge confidence for the sterner tests that have to be faced.STUTTERED TO A HALT
Gloucesterís interval lead of 21-3 was deserved but after the break the home sideís efforts gradually stuttered to a virtual halt.
Perhaps it was the constant changes to the team but the comings and goings to and from the replacementís bench did little to improve the quality of play. Once again Gloucester stuttered in the final quarter of the match and allowed the opposition scoring opportunities.
An Italian referee who sent a handful of players to the sin-bin did nothing to aid any efforts for a free flowing spectacle.
A win for the home side was never in doubt once Junior Paramore and Chris Fortey had crossed the La Rochelle line for first half tries.
Paul Turner is rumoured to be coming to Kingsholm as an assistant coach and on this seasonís showing he will have ample scope to improve the finishing of the three quarters.
Too often this season chances have bee created but crucial scores missed because of poor ball retention and sloppy handling.
Within minutes of the start winger Daren O ĎLeary had left the field to be replaced by Joe Ewens who had yet another strong game.
James Simpson-Daniel may look a little out of place on the wing but he for one does have a good pair of hands. Unlucky not to score in the first half he did provide some deft handling in the second half to set up Joe Ewens for the best try of the game.
A lightweight La Rochelle team got a couple of tries to give their score a semblance of respectability but Gloucester should not have let them get that close.
Once again the Mercier metronome was in good working order as he totted up 19 points. He too limped off just before the end as the Cherry and Whites used all their replacements.
With the irrepressible Jake Boer and Andy Hazell nursing injuries there must be concern that Fijian Koli Sewabu also left the field with a shoulder injury to further deplete the back row resources.
It was a frustrating sort of game. Gloucester will need a more consistent performance for the return meeting in January.
By then Henry Paul should have settled in. Gloucester still have a lot to do. Is he the one to galvanise the team? We await his arrival with great expectations !