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Gloucester hold on to deny Tykes Gloucester 24 Leeds 19

GLOUCESTER WERE TWENTY-ONE POINTS UP after only twenty minutes play in the first half with spectators dreaming of the luxury of a forthcoming bonus point try.
    However in the final twenty minutes of the second half Gloucester were forced to hang on, pinned deep inside their own territory, with more than a touch of defensive desperation at times and frayed nerves for the same spectators before the final whistle signalled relief.
    In between Leeds had notched up nineteen points, with only a vital successful penalty kick from Henry Paul as the sole Gloucester posting on the scoreboard in reply.
    In simple terms the damage was done for the Cherry and Whites in the final ten minutes before half time when the home side visually eased up and the Tykes added a morale boosting thirteen points to put the Yorkshiremen right back in contention at the interval.
    Gloucester got off to a quick fire start dominating possession, probing and pressurising the visitors defence and it was not long before the first try was scored James Simpson-Daniel looked sharper than at The Stoop and got his first try wide out and shortly afterwards added a second under the posts. Henry Paulís successful conversion kicks eased the Cherry and Whites into a comfortable 14 points lead which was further increased when Jamie Forrester crossed and Henry duly supplied the finishing touch from wide out.
    Sinbad again touched down but was denied the score as the referee brought play back for a previous infringement. From thereon it all went pear shaped. Gloucester relaxed and from being continually confined to their own half, Leeds began to get some ball in their opponentís territory.

The referee Sean Davey on his first visit to Kingsholm could certainly not be accused of any bias towards the home side. Time and time again Leeds forwards were allowed to get away with the tactic of having an extra man enter the line out. Their players joined and exited the line outs at will like passengers getting on and off a bus. On top of this, Leeds frequently pulled the Gloucester line out players down when in possession of the ball but this effective disruptive tactic also went unpunished.
    The players were frustrated and the crowd equally confused by the referee, particularly with the large amount of penalties awarded in the second half and consequently the game suffered from a lack of continuity and never opened up as a result.
    Leedsí scrum half Alan Dickens broke away inside the Gloucester twenty-two through the almost non existent cover defence to score a try in the corner. Scottish international Duncan Hodge converted from the touchline and kicked two penalties to narrow the gap to 21-13 at half time and put the visitors right back in the game.
    In the second half with the advantage of the stiff breeze the visitors came more and more into the game.
    Gloucesterís pack conceded too many turnovers with a lack of committed graft in the forward exchanges as Hodge narrowed the gap with some good kicking to give the Tykes a real chance as the game entered its final stages.
    With the exception of Jon Goodridge, Gloucesterís touch kicking was poor. We have been spoilt for the last couple of seasons and taken for granted gaining large chunks of ground with the Ludoís left boot but that is now a thing of the past.
    Henry Paul eased the jangling nerves with a well struck penalty but the home side were very much up against it and made to struggle as a spate of shoulder injuries took its toll. Jon Goodridge looked to be the worst affected but Robert Todd and Paul Johnstone were also sidelined.
    It is early days for Duncan McRae but he supplied some deft touches with clever kicks ahead and long accurate passes but did not command the mid-field and became less influential in the second half as Gloucester struggled.
    This time last season we were top of the table with 26 league points (4 bonus points), 217 points scored and 122 conceded and only one defeat from seven games. This season second place, 22 league points (1 bonus point), 148 points and 95 conceded and two defeats from seven matches.


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