Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sporting Matters

A single week from now, the Gloucester club shall exist magisterially and proudly as one of the last four teams in the Heineken European Cup if - and I am not unaware of the immensity of this ‘if’ - the ‘Elver Eaters’ defeat the might of Munster, a whole province, next Saturday. On yesterday’s form, the ‘if’ is visible from space. My favoured team failed disappointingly to finish off a fairly ordinary Worcester outfit at the Sixways stadium, despite entering the half-time interval leading 14-12 with the knowledge that a gale would be in their opponents’ faces for the second period. If Worcester, a scarcely adequate fifteen, can take advantage of Gloucester’s lack of ruthlessness and cutting edge, then our Irish visitors shall enjoy a day to remember. For the record, a last-gasp try by former Kingsholm favourite Thinus Delport finished off the visitors.

I take few positives from yesterday. The young prince, Simpson-Daniel, was, yet again, the finest player on view. His eye for a gap, electrifying pace and acceleration and all-round vision caught this ocular organ all afternoon. My player of the season needs to be wrapped in cotton wool all week. Oliver Morgan enjoyed a splendid return to the fabled colours; his composure under the high ball and his trademark elegant running wi’ ball in hand were welcome. Another returnee, Alex Brown, played with aplomb and determination, securing plenty of Worcester ball in the lines-out as well as sufficient possession from his own team’s set piece. I hope Will James partners him next week; yesterday’s captain Bortolami seems a pale shadow of last term’s colossus and I sense the Irish fellows would cope less well with the physicality of our shaven-headed Welshman than with the more cultured, but less imposing, Italian. Elsewhere, I hope a place is found for the Scot Paterson in the matchday fifteen to face Munster, preferably at the expense of the talented yet erratic Lamb, who is yet to really boss a game for Gloucester. Whatever the permutations, this punter is excited by the prospect of a special occasion and a fantastic atmosphere. I can’t wait.

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