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Headingley                            Zurich Premiership                              Sunday 12 May 2002
Leeds 17 Gloucester 50

A HALF CENTURY score at Headingley was enough to give Gloucester a maximum bonus point win over Leeds but not quite enough to take the runners-up spot in the Zurich Premiership. The Cherry and White’s points effort was as much as they could have achieved but Sale sealed second place by also taking all the spoils at Heywood Road, over a below strength Harlequins side, to finish just one point above Gloucester in the table.
    Gloucester’s win buried Leeds at the bottom of the Premiership basement but the outcome of the Rotherham affair ensures that the Tykes will have at least one more season of Premiership rugby.
    Twickenham’s decision to deny Rotherham promotion killed off most of Sunday’s league matches stone dead - not so much do or die battles but more like irrelevant meetings - very much like the popular public perception of the R.F.U. administration.
    Interesting talk on the terraces at Headingley by well informed Yorkshire men, was that the Rotherham committee were not too keen for their team to go up. Although the players fulfilled their part on the pitch, they were let down by suspect administration off the field.

    Leeds got off to a dream start against a Gloucester side that took a long time to settle into their rhythm, with an early try for winger Chris Hall. [Courtesy of a pass that was so far forward that everyone in the crowd saw but the match officials missed] Braam van Straaten added the conversion and a penalty before the visiting Cherry and Whites began to stir themselves.
    James Forrester began to find holes in the Leeds defence and it was not too long before he strolled over for the first Gloucester try set up by Henry Paul’s sleight of hand. Leeds began to struggle to contain the Gloucester pack as Junior Paramore collected a sharp pass from Andy Gomarsall to barge his way over for a try. With the help of Ludo’s boot Gloucester were ahead at the break with the score 17-10.
    Although he was booed by the Leeds crowd each time he touched the ball, Henry Paul, remembered for his time with Bradford Bulls, played well and became more involved in the play in the second half. He worked the ball to Simpson-Daniel who was stopped close to the line. Junior took it on before prop Trevor Woodman crashed over for the try.
    Leeds began to look tired and their defensive covering was continually being exposed by the pace and passing of the Gloucester counter attacks.
    In James Forrester and James Simpson-Daniel Gloucester have two of the quickest young talents in the Premiership and it was from a lightning break from deep in the Gloucester half that Forrester put Sinbad away on a scorching run to claim his first try of the afternoon.
    Within minutes Terry Fanolua swapped passes with Sinbad to send him on his way again, for the best score of the day.
    Diego Albanese did everything but score and it was ironic that within minutes of him leaving the field, his replacement Daren O’Leary got a try.
    As the game progressed so did the Cherry and White’s handling with some fluent back play that was good enough for an exhibition video. Sinbad’s running and vision were outstanding - no wonder that the large contingent of travelling Gloucester supporters were chanting ‘Sinbad for England’. He opened up the Leeds’s defence yet again to give Koli Sewabu the score.
    Skipper Phil Vickery came on as a replacement but soon departed with a minor cut after worrying the fans that he may have suffered a reoccurrence of his knee injury. Leeds full back Dan Scarborough added a late consolation try for the home side but by then it was all over.
    Gloucester have now scored 16 tries in their last two games, 9 against Bath and 7 against Leeds, admittedly both bottom of the table teams but Bath have only managed 19 tries all season! No wonder they have struggled at the foot of the table. How times have changed, nice to see the almighty tumble.
    50 points for the Cherry and Whites at Leeds, their best ever league score away from Kingsholm. This took Gloucester to a Premiership total of 692 points, the highest in the league this season. 34 points more than Leicester. A pity about some poor performances away from home but hopefully something to build on for next season. Now for Newcastle in the Zurich Championships.


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