Saturday, November 17, 2007

Realm of Dusk

Gloucester 26 – Ospreys 18

This was a great occasion. As always, the floodlights heightened the thrills and spills and the vivid Technicolor spectacle was never less than pulsating and compelling. Two splendid teams battled for victoire. The glory boys of Ospreys looked the part, thoroughbreds galore, all fake tan and fanciness, throwing the ball about with pace and pomp and verve and commanding the opening exchanges. This punter was not alone in believing the match was slipping away from the mighty Gloucester after the first twenty minutes when a mixture of careless play and effervescent ebullience from the opposition saw the Welsh fellows take a deserved lead. Doggedness, desire and determination rather than any tangible splendour from the city kept the lead pegged back to a respectable three points at the interval. It was all to play for though and the sin-binning of a Welshman at the whistle proffered hopes to the cherry ‘n’ white hordes.

The second half proved a magnificent event. Within seconds of the restart, coltish prodigy Anthony Allen emerged from nowhere, burst through the midfield, pinned back his organs of hearing and careered with pleasing promptness under the sticks. The famed old stadium erupted. Advantage Gloucester. A further touch down from Simpson-Daniel, il principe giovane, after a tremendous leg race with the playboy Henson, gave Gloucester hope but further twists and turns kept the entranced spectators on edge until the final whistle. Gleeful back play warms the heart certainly, but the old ghosts that rattle round the historic arena will have appreciated the attritional final five minutes when the home eight fixed bayonets and contrived phase after phase of close-quarters rugby football. The crowd bayed, the clock crept towards no-side and the lads cannily and merrily frustrated their opposite numbers. Victory!

I salute the Gloucester players but, in particular, congratulate young Luke Narraway on a mature and dynamic performance with the legendary ‘8’ shirt on his back. I like the way the unselfish and uncompromising workhorses Buxton and Strokosch roll their sleeves up and graft for the outfit too. Quietly and intelligently, young Strokosch is becoming a very important member of the squad. The backs combined reasonably well last evening and took the chances keenly when they emerged. The volcanic behemoth Vainikolo enjoyed a decent home debut and was a busy and dangerous entity without really threatening the tryline. Paterson’s twenty-five minutes on the park, controlling and closing the game with intelligent kicking and nippy running and passing, was fabulous and, hopefully, a satisfactory augury for future success. Hurrah.

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