Frustration as Gloucester grind out win
Kingsholm Zurich Premiership Saturday 30 March 2002
Gloucester 36 Saracens 13
ATTITUDES are changing at Kingsholm. Not so very long ago fans and players were content with victory, any win was welcome but now even though Gloucester won by a convincing margin. you could sense a touch of frustration in the air.FANOLUA'S BEST GAME BUT BINNED
Fanolua was enjoying his best game for some while, until he too upset referee Maybank and ended up in the bin. However once again Saracens were unable to take advantage of the extra man and failed to add to their score.
In a Premiership match full of incident and at times scrappy play, the Cherry and Whites finished up with a somewhat flattering scoreline and four valuable points for their efforts.
Three tries were sufficient to earn victory in a tough entertaining contest with Saracens but not enough to secure the bonus point.
The disappointment stemmed from the manner of the home sideís victory. Gloucester did not play badly but you were left with the feeling that at times they made hard work of it to overcome a spirited Saracens side.
The Londoners certainly made the home side work hard but try as they did, the Gloucester back play just did not flow. At last there are signs of progress but too many errors occurred and half chances were missed.
Gloucester made a solid start with the pack soon asserting their authority in the set pieces but in addition to their usual brand of driving play, were willing and able to run and handle the ball.
The hard graft is meat and drink for the Gloucester forwards and it invariably applies the pressure on their opponents to force errors. The penalties are duly forthcoming and Ludovic Mercierís boot does the rest.
Saracens were treated to the usual treatment as Ludo got the Cherry and Whites on the scoreboard before terrific Gloucester power at a scrum wheeled and disrupted the visitorís set piece. The ball squirted out for Robert Todd to seize the ball and plunge over for the opening try after only five minutes.
Sarries raised their game through Tim Horan and their lively backs and although without an established regular goal kicker, Kevin Sorrell kept them in touch as they came back into the game with a strong challenge.
A quick tap penalty from scrum half Kyran Bracken, set up Abdul Benazzi who fed winger Gerald Arasa to score a try to put the visitors right back in the game at 13-10.
Mark Cornwell fell foul of the referee Roy Maybank and collected a yellow card and ten minutes in the sin-bin but Saracens were unable to profit and add to their score.
Saracens did concede a second try when some quick thinking and a good pass from Junior Paramore found Terry Fanolua who used his strength to squeeze over in the corner. Ludo converted from the touchline to increase the lead to 20-10.
Saracens made a strong start to the second half and forced Gloucester on to the back foot before the trusty boot of Ludo took over with lengthy relieving touch finders.
Gloucesterís pack then assumed full control and Kyran Bracken was made to struggle behind a beaten eight who committed more and more offences but surprisingly did not collect any yellow cards until the 80th minute as Ludoís kicking eased them further into the lead.
With just five minutes play remaining Ludo was helped from the pitch after being laid out but having contributed 19 points.
This brought on James Simpson-Daniel, Englandís hero of the Hong Kong sevens, from the bench before once more the Gloucester packís superior strength opened up the Sarrieís defence for Andy Gomarsall to peel off a driving maul for a try. Henry Paul converted from the touchline but it was almost all over. Gloucester threw the ball about but the fourth bonus point try proved to be elusive.
Gloucesterís last home defeat was back in September at the hands of champions Leicester. On recent form Bath will have to come up with something very special if they are to succeed at Kingsholm in the last Premiership home fixture of the season.
Wouldnít it be great to seal second place in the Premiership for Gloucester and relegation for Bath at the same time?