Sale find all the aces in the Gloucester pack
Kingsholm Zurich Premiership Saturday 9 March 2002
Gloucester 42 Sale 14
MELVILLE, may not yet be completely in charge at Kingsholm but
one sure fact is that the Gloucester pack was in charge against
An injury hit Sale side was no match for the home side who produced an encouragingly enterprising performance. A display marred by the fact that although the Cherry and Whites recorded five tries, Andy Gomarsall, Olivier Azam and Darren O’Leary all crossed the Sale line but were denied scores and other chances were missed.
Strangely enough, Gloucester scarcely touched the ball for the first ten minutes as Sale recycled the ball and retained possession efficiently and were first to score from a Vaughan Going penalty
Ludo and Going exchanged further penalties before the dominant Gloucester pack began to pile on the pressure. They were irrepressible in the tight and dynamic in the loose.
Junior Paramore got the first try and when Sale lost their replacement No.8 Chris Jones to the sin-bin, it was downhill all the way for the visitors as the home side assumed almost complete control.
Tries soon followed from Andy Gomarsall and James Simpson-Daniel, all converted by Ludo.
Sale’s only reply was another penalty from Going.
Although danger man Jason Robinson invariably beat the first would-be tacklers, he was generally well contained by the Gloucester cover defence.
In one notable attempt to stop the England full back, Jake Boer and Terry Fanolua collided in violent fashion which led to the Samoan’s replacement by James Simpson-Daniel.
Thanks to their pack Gloucester led 27-9 at half time but it could quite easily have been more but for missed chances at critical times. On this occasion the errors did not prove too costly as the bonus point was eventually gained early in the second half, to put a bit more daylight between them and third place Sale.
SALE UNDER PRESSURE
Sale were under pressure at every scrum, ruck and maul from a pack which has kept the Cherry and Whites close to the top of the Premiership table.
Once again Gloucester made a sluggish start to the second half and outside half Going exploited a gap in the Gloucester defence to score an early try.
Unlike Sale in the first half, Gloucester took advantage of the strong wind after the break and although not as dominant in the second half, Gloucester were always in charge.
The ever improving James Forrester got the fourth try and set up Federico Pucciarello for the fifth. Ludo converted one but hit the post with the other kick after slotting a long range penalty.
The other factor that has kept Gloucester in contention has been the prodigious goal kicking of Ludovic Mercier.
There have been no doubts of his ability with the boot but some have expressed concern about his aptitude for releasing the back line. His general play has now developed and his confidence and consequently there are now signs of real improvement in the back play.
Perhaps Paul Turner and the changes in the coaching structure are beginning to bear fruit?
Skipper Phil Vickery showed exemplary commitment to the cause, and the whole side responded with a spirited show.
Pre-season, both sides were widely tipped to be propping up the lower levels of the Zurich Premiership table. Now there are signs that Heineken European Cup involvement could be a reality next season as some of the more fancied clubs have failed to perform. Former glories count for nothing in the professional era, it is now the winning results that count, not reputations.
Over to you Mr Melville.