Date:February 23, 2013

Four Tries But No Win

Aviva Premiership – 17 February 2013

Wasps 33 – Gloucester 29

In the end, I think the result was fair – it possibly even flattered us, as our tries were of the consolation variety once Wasps had eased off.  They were superior to us at the breakdown, better in the line-out most of the time, and managed parity at the scrum – they’re one of the form sides in the AP and I’ll settle for two points and preventing them getting the fifth one.  Apart from the first ten, and the final five minutes, I thought we were second best.

For those who thought we’d dominate up front, it was never going to happen, as Wasps are not the pushovers they used to be at the set piece – they’ve got a cracking coach in Dai Young.

It was also a pretty stark lesson for us: we’re becoming a good side, but we aren’t quite there yet.  I think top four is still a possibility but we’ll need to continue to improve to get there – and avoid banana skins such as the one that lies in wait for us next Friday evening.  Wasps too will have learned something – their final ten minutes exposed their weaknesses as they clearly panicked and lost the plot.  I would imagine Young will have had something to say about that.

Our young, cobbled together half-back combo did well, but their inexperience showed at times – the old adage that if they’re good enough they’re old enough, is as it always was, total rubbish.  When it gets to sweaty-palm time you need experience and a calm head: we’re going to miss Cowan for the rest of the season, and we have to hope that Freddie comes back soon and stays fit.  I thought Lewis once again added something when he came on – I’m sorry to see him go.

In the centre, Tinds was, as usual, classy and very physical, and Molenaar did his job without ever looking as though he could be a first-choice centre.

Sharples and May did their jobs without having too many chances, or ever looking as though they’d create anything.

It would be unfair to blame Rob Cook for the loss, but kickers need to take their chances, and he didn’t.  That may sound harsh but it’s just a fact.

Once again I wasn’t convinced by our front-row, and if ‘onlythegood’s’ pre-match statistics were right then I’m bewildered – no way do we have the best scrum in the AP!   Both Wood and Harden had their share of problems, and I remain of the view that we need a bigger hooker than DD – oh for another Olly Azam!  Wentzel showed that we need a top-class second –row if we’re to compete at the highest level – his steal from Big Jim was lovely.

Had Q stayed on then we might have edged it, but I’m afraid this was the game where I decided that Matt Cox simply isn’t what we need – roll on Kvesic’s arrival.

Finally, I thought the ref’ was good – he was fair, rigorous, but consistent at the breakdown, and I’m not sure we can ask for more.

I’m, on balance, still just about ‘glass half full’, and if we can pick up four or five points next Friday then we’re still in decent shape – here’s hoping we don’t throw in a performance like the one we produced against Irish!