Sunday, November 25, 2007

This is the winter of your mind

Gloucester 27 – Harlequins 25

Here was the proverbial ‘game o’ two halves’. A rude awakening awaited those expecting the might of the city club to overcome a visiting Harlequin FC with ease and pomp. The first thirty minutes saw the visitors pounce four times for beautifully taken tries and, with the stylish young back Strettle seemingly cantering through a troubled defence at will, an embarrassing and shocking defeat seemed on the cards. A well-taken reply from the volcanic behemoth, Vainikolo and a brace of penalties from the assured Paterson took the Cherries in for the half-time orange segments, a flattering 25-13 down.

The second half proved an emotional event. A key substitution brought the abrasive Azam on for Titterrell and the rugged Frenchman, not for the first time, brought steel, passion and go-forward fervour to his beloved team. Terrific tidal waves of surging forward attacks brought Gloucester into key areas of the pitch and, importantly, the home players were starting to hog possession with a rare gluttony. Local lips were licked lasciviously. With the Harlequin fellows struggling to stem the tide, the penalty count rose quicker than something that rises very quickly and, unsurprisingly a brace of London types were dispatched to the bin marked ‘sin’. Pressure told and a joyous Michael ‘Mike’ Tindall and the volcanic behemoth both crossed to general delirium. Both tries were converted and, despite scares, the 27-25 scoreline remained thus for the remainder of the match

This was not a lucky win but a few newish players were assimilated into the fifteen which produced a fairly disjointed and messy first forty minutes. If this was a gamble, it was a gamble that worked. The likes of Delve, Cooper and Paterson will have benefited from the experience and the squad, as a unit, will certainly improve. The impact of Delve, a ball carrying brute, became increasingly visible as the afternoon progressed. My man o’ the match gong would probably be conceptually presented to the young full-back Morgan, safe under the high ball, defensively sure and a handful in attack with his elegant heads-up galloping keenness. I salute him.

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