Sunday, September 21, 2008

A poor man’s Seti Kiole

Yesterday’s rugby union match between my favoured Gloucester and London’s Harlequin FC followed a pattern that many supporters of the Kingsholm-based club would recognise: an early lead gathered by opponents was gradually overtaken through hard graft and a hint of guile, and, despite late scares, a victory was achieved to general delight mixed with a soupcon of relief. I’ve witnessed plenty of similar matches and they sure beat sullen defeats permeated with a murky sense of underachievement and, even, encouraging defeats containing spade-loads of élan. Essentially, it is marvellous to win, especially with the suggestion of a thrilling denouement to keep the old ticker pounding. Yesterday saw the debut of Oliver Barkley, the former Bath centre three-quarter, who will certainly add a touch of class to the Gloucester midfield. Barkley is that rarity in cherry, a member of the back division who is able to kick from hand with skill and tactical nous. There were hints of this talent yesterday and I was encouraged. The most exciting moment of the match saw the rugged and uncompromising flank forward Strokosch burst through the centre of the park and sprint to glory under the old tump end posts chased with gusto by an array of ‘quins characters. The hard-nosed Scot enjoyed a splendid match and is becoming a particular favourite of this punter and potentially merits the tag ‘Enforcer’. The player who is least deserving of his place in the team is the powerful Tongan Vainikolo whom I would describe as a one trick pony whose trick is not really that special. The big man’s performance yesterday was weak. I don’t recall any defenders being beaten, just a series of fairly lumbering collisions that achieved little, challenged nobody and were greeted with general apathy by all and sundry on the popular side of the ground. On current form we are viewing a poor man’s Seti Kiole and I yearn for the return to the fifteen of the unpredictable Balshaw, flaws ‘n’ all, or the willing, ready and improving Foster.

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