Monday, February 15, 2010

Take me down from the ridge where the summer ends; watch the city spread out just like a jet's flame

My favoured rugby club, the Gloucester outfit of Gloucester, is enjoying a year of feel-good fervour. Key players are re-signing in droves, the coaching team seems focussed and invigorated and the first fifteen seems to be on fire with splendid wins arriving relentlessly.

Last Saturday was smashing. There are many genres of Gloucester victories (rearguard, gritty grind; forward slog rewarded by high penalty count; elegiac comeback against all odds; insipid limp-to-the-line against poor quality opposition etc.) and I am able to classify our latest victory against an adequate Harlequins team thus: a widely expected win embellished by sparkling and witty play and an unimpeachable team ethic.

This was one of those matches that the enthusiastic supporter wishes would last just a few minutes longer. Teams within teams seemed to be clicking beautifully for the city club. Its centre three-quarters, Fuimaono-Sapolu and Molenaar, continued to link merrily and form a sensational combination, the front row (Wood, Azam and Somerville) were abrasive and to-be-feared, the back three (Morgan, Vainikolo and the young prince Simpson-Daniel) attacked wi’ verve and intent while the back row twinned defensive duty with offensive glee. All individuals performed zestfully and with skill. ‘The lads’ are playing rugby union with smiles on their faces and, by heck, it’s catching.

I’ll highlight three Elver Eaters. The aforementioned prince of the wing seems back to his best. The fellow they call ‘Sinbad’ hardly touched the oval in the first quarter of the match but responded with some breathless support running, great guile, and general intelligence. Another hat-trick for the young thoroughbred was deserved and wildly acclaimed. I shall mention the under-mentioned outside-half Nicky Robinson too. He ran proceedings calmly and cleverly at the weekend. One of my favoured sights at Kingsholm is the alert Welshman spotting a gap and surging through it at pace. Robinson looks marvellous with ball in hand. I rate him. My third doff of the cap is attempted in the direction of another Celt, the charismatic captain Delve. I believe his Gloucester career is drawing to an end but the loyal Gloucester support will remember him fondly for performances like Saturday’s. The Welshman ran and ran, sought contact (and gaps) vigorously and capped a man of the match display with a sumptuous interception and sixty yard dash. His vision and ability to sense the rapidly arriving Simpson-Daniel on his shoulder and deliver a cracking pass was worth the admission fee alone.

I salute all associated with the club’s playing and coaching organisations for a fabulous afternoon.

The above photograph originally appeared on my Twitter feed. It was captioned at the time, '1.40pm. The popular side waits and expects. Japandroids on my iPod cannot hide the buzz of eager chat.'

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