‘Glaws’ win Wild West-Country derby…

21 02 2012

‘Cherry and White’ Quotes:

‘The Holy Writ of Gloucester Rugby demands: first that the forwards shall win the ball; second that the forwards shall keep the ball; and third the backs shall buy the beer.’

(Source – Mile High Report)

 

‘Refusal to admit defeat, endless determination to arrest a danger situation – and first-rate skill executed in devastatingly accurate   fashion. That’s the ‘dawg’ that defines everything good about Gloucester Rugby Club.’

(The Gloucester Echo)

‘You have to try and make teams stand up and look at you.’

(Bryan Redpath – Gloucester Rugby Coach)

 

It was certainly a game of two halves, as far as  the weather was concerned, with  a first half deluge giving way to a second half of blinding sunshine.

It cost £41 for the privilege of watching the West Country derby from the uncovered , temporary, ‘Novia Financial Stand’ , complete with portaloos. Heaven knows what ‘Baarf’ will  charge if they ever move out of ‘the Wreck’ into something approaching a modern stadium!

But in fairness, the ground does enjoy a pretty special backdrop, taking in Bath Abbey, and the surrounding Georgian architecture.   

Having spent my afternoon in the company of dripping Barbours, Wild West Country Stetsons, and  one-eyed ‘Baarfonians’ trumpeting, ‘Sit down!’  every time a Cherry and White shirt threatened  their  try-line, made it all the more pleasurable when referee Wayne Barnes blew the final whistle on a glorious ‘Glawster’ victory –  a second successive Premiership double, at a ground where they never used to have a prayer!  

The final score-line,‘Baarf’ 11 – ‘Glaws’ 14, was far closer than it might have been in a game where the visitors enjoyed territorial domination and kept possession for long periods.  

A couple of missed kicks, in sodden conditions, that would normally have been taken, and a couple of final passes that went adrift (or were never delivered) with the try line beckoning, would have settled the matter much earlier and meant a far less tense final few minutes .               

Local rivalry was soon simmering nicely and, with just three minutes on the clock, a good old-fashioned free for all, led to yellow cards being brandished at, bearded  Scottish lock, Jim Hamilton and Ulsterman Ryan Caldwell.

They were still in the sin-bin as Tom Biggs put the home side ahead,  setting off like Billy Whizz to latch on to a grub-kick, prodded out wide left,  by coffee loving hooker, Lee Mears. With Charlie Sharples struggling to turn and give chase on the glue-pot surface, Biggs  finished in style, diving over in the corner. The ‘Baarf’ winger can certainly shift, and knows where the white line is, but luckily that was his first and only sniff of a chance.

The Cherry and Whites soon bounced back, with a beautifully worked try of their own. ‘Baarf’ old boys, outspoken tweeter, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu,  and  Mike Tindall combined  well, and the former dwarf throwing England captain set off on a  30 metre dash for the line, being hauled down just short. The ball was quickly recycled and James ‘Sinbad’ Daniels threw a beautifully timed long pass, out wide, to galloping prop, Nick Wood – ‘the Commander’ – who shook off a covering tackle to touch down in the corner.

Wood was more than a handful all afternoon, combining a typically powerful scrummaging display with a couple of rampaging runs and  neat handling skills in the loose, and was well deserving of his Man of the Match award.

‘Glaws’ went in with an 11-5 lead at the break but it should have been more. England Saxons fly half Freddie Burns missed a three pointer from directly in front of the post and, Fijian flanker, Akapusi Quera hung on to the ball, ignoring a two-man overlap, and spilling it over the line as, tattooed titan, Matt Banahan dragged him down.        

‘Baarf’ began the second period well and mounting pressure secured them a couple of penalties, one  each to Olly Barkley and Tom Heathcote, which levelled the score.

In season’s past ‘Glaws’ might have capitulated at that point, but they gradually reasserted their superiority, upping the tempo and always looking likely to carve out a try scoring opportunity on the counter attack, through Jonny May, ‘Sinbad’ or Sharples.       

With 66 minutes on the clock, teenager Ryan Mills, an England Under 20  fly half, entered the fray, replacing Burns, who had gone down with cramp.

With ten minutes of the game remaining, Banahan failed to roll away in the tackle, and  the match winning opportunity fell to Mills, who kept his cool, calmly bisecting the posts.

‘Glaws’, with their  noses in front, closed the game out, running the clock down with commendable ease until the dying seconds, when having lost possession they were forced to defend a crucial line-out. ‘Baarf’ duly knocked on – it was not to be their day – and the travelling Cherry and White horde began their celebrations.    

Even Stevie D conceded that ‘Glaws’ were deserved winners. They were stronger, all over the pitch, and in every aspect of the game. South African scrum half Michael Claassens, and centre, Olly Barkley, who had a dreadful time of it during his ‘for one season only’ appearance at Kingsholm, key players for the home side, were well below par.

Following a disappointing Heineken Cup campaign (despite a superb home win over Toulouse), ‘Glaws’ have dug deep to ensure their Premiership season does not peter out. Having suffered just one defeat in their last five games, the Cherry and Whites  are mounting a late challenge for a top four place, with a crucial televised home game against ‘Quins to come next week-end.    

 

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