Aviva Premiership – 22 February, 2013
Gloucester 29 – Worcester Warriors 23
What should we make of this performance? The first thing is that the formbook goes out of the window in Glaws v Wuss derby games – the upstarts from up the M5 always seem to drag something out of the bag when they come up against us. Secondly, Gloucester just aren’t firing at present, and a lot of it is down to immaturity and the lack of experienced heads.
I’m sure his critics will disagree, but I reckon that had Tinds played then Glaws would have won the game with some ease. There would have been fewer gaps in the defensive line, and he’d have made sure that there were level heads rather than headless chickens. There were problems pretty well across the park, and we need to step up hugely on this performance if we’re to stop Bath sticking plenty of points on us next Friday.
Let’s start with the back three. Rob Cook did OK, but not much more than that. His kicking let him down again – the difference in pressure level between the Championship and the Premiership is huge, and that’s two games in a row that he’s been found out. Sharples did OK without ever looking the player he was before England discarded him – I remember Anthony Allen having a similar slump when he was treated badly by them.
However, it’s Jonny May that worries me most. He has blinding speed, and he’s a decent-sized lump, but what does he think he’s playing at? In the last two games he has tried to do too much himself, and I thought he had another poor game against Wuss. If he wants to get back in the England frame then he needs to concentrate on being a winger, not some sort of a pseudo-centre.
At centre we were poor. Molenaar made a schoolboy error when he chucked the pass that game Wuss a try, and what was Trinder doing leaping out of the line, and then dithering. If we play those two against Bath they’ll slaughter us.
At half-back we saw the same as at Wasps: flashes of really good stuff, interspersed with poor, aimless kicking and bad decision-making. I’d start Dave Lewis at 9 next week, and can we all collectively say a prayer for Freddie’s return.
We have talented backs but they’re just not doing the business at present and we’ll rapidly fade from top four contention unless things change quickly. Thankfully we have a break after next weekend, so we can get Sinbad (oh how we’ve missed his intelligence), Twelvetrees, and hopefully Shaun Knight all back.
Our front row did OK, but I was happier when Edmonds took over from DD – hopefully he’ll start next weekend. Our second row did OK, I suspect mainly because the Wuss line-out was a shambles. In fact, the pack did OK, it was just that the other seven players looked clueless!
As for the penalty try. Well done the TMO, and well done David Rose for taking his advice. I’ve looked at it over and over again, and does Claasens leg actually touch Jonny May, or does May dive over it? Either way it doesn’t matter: it was a trip, or a failed attempt to trip, and both are unacceptable, although I’m sure it was a reflex action rather than intentional. As for the argument that Hodgson would have made the tackle, get real! He was a yard behind May, and some yards away from him – he wouldn’t have laid a finger on him, not in this world or the parallel universe 15 miles up the M5!
I read the whinge about the unsporting Kingsholm crowd and it made me smile: firstly, the immutable law of rugby is that the losers complain, and the second is that I try to avoid Sixways as I have found it to have too many Brummie footie supporters having an away day. It’s my least favourite AP ground – even worse than Vicarage Road was, and not as welcoming as the Rec’!
Finally, to those that are against artificial pitches, K turned his ankle on the mud, and Christolini lasted 40 seconds because his foot slipped when the pressure came on – my belief is that wouldn’t have happened at Allianz Park. You’ve got to feel for Chistolini as he had the chance to shut his critics up, and the pitch took that away from him.