What a resurgence for Gloucester Rugby that was! I am almost tempted to end this week’s blog there, but obviously there were many other very important results from the weekend!
Seriously though, how can a side who were literally pummelled away from home by another bottom third team last week, come good against a top 3 side in the space of seven days? Don’t get me wrong, this was a tight fought affair with some brawling action coming out of both camps, but it baffles me how a side that has the calibre and professionalism of player that Gloucester does, can swing in performance from the ridiculous to the sublime in such a narrow window. It was the first time Gloucester have beaten Saints in four years and to make that a bonus point win and stop Northampton on a four-match winning streak just makes it all the better. Hats off to Henry Trinder and Willi Heinz for their quick hands and quick thinking in this game, but this is the sort of rugby a Cherry and Whites fan should come to expect week in week out. Were still fresh into the season and there is a long old way to go before you can start to make proper calls on performance, but if Ackerman can inspire this kind of play with some form of consistency going forwards, then you have to put Glos in the mix. Unfortunately, we’ve got to wait a little while to find out if that consistency can be found as European rugby steps into the breach for the next fortnight.
Saracens were back to their formidable selves at the weekend after thrashing Wasps in their own back yard with Jamie George cutting loose and seemingly intent on decimating last year’s title contenders on his own, all it took was the indiscretion of Wasps to help Sarries on their way to a convincing win. Shipping twelve points through discipline is a bad day at the office for any team, but it is just reflective of the constant pressure that they were under from Sarries and are going to be under from the top brass following a string of defeats. Much like Gloucester though, you cannot draw performance conclusions after six games, but for title contenders to be at the bottom of the pile isn’t good news. You can look at it and say they’ve lost to top flight teams, but this won’t cut it with Dai Young et al, as they were consistently with those boys and beating them last year, so a long hard look at the game plan has got to be in order! Wasps may be a 1st XV down in injuries at this moment in time, but they’ve got depth and breadth in their talent and whoever pulls on the jersey needs to be accountable after 80 minutes.
Out of the other games played this weekend I feel that special mention must be made for London Irish, as they narrowly missed out on upsetting mid-table Leicester, Irish are struggling at the moment, but does this signal the beginning of change at the Madejski Stadium? They’ve had a relatively rough run in to this season, coming up against big names out of the gate and managed one scalp from the first handful of matches, so when we start to see a little parity in the opposition, we might get some very different results. Unfortunately for them, they won’t see those games until early December, but if they cause some upsets along the way then they could be climbing up the league and troubling your Gloucester’s, Sale’s and dare I even say it? Wasps? We will see.
I’ll be watching the European rugby with intent as the best of the Northern Hempisphere come to blows over the next fortnight and I feel like we are going to be in for some corking matches this year. There hasn’t been a step change in the game but the rules are definitely skewed towards a more attacking game this season with an average of fifty or so more contacts per game, it is about the hard-hitting grind that rugby always used to be; there is more speed at the breakdown more presence of mind from the half backs and more involvement from the forwards, it feels a little like unity has been bought back to the game and I am enjoying it. I hope you are too.
Until next week, enjoy the sport, enjoy the game.