Well, we were back to the domestic action this week and it seems as though it was serendipity that fireworks night is just on the horizon as the action went off with a bang! Who would have thought that “The battle of the West Country” would have gone down in the way it did?
Gloucester at “The Rec” has a long and illustrious history and unfortunately for Gloucester fans (and players) it is usually one of the Cherry and Whites travelling down the road for a sound thrashing of a weekend afternoon, but not this time, no sir! 80 minutes of rugby were played but it seems like both teams decided to ply their trade in the first and last quarters of this game.
You have to take your hat off to Semesa Rokoduguni because the guy is an absolute animal of a player and is taking defences to task left, right and centre at present. Seven tries in seven games? Just outstanding, but Gloucester’s Yo-Yo performances at the moment are almost a sight to behold in their own right. If these boys could find the consistency, they’d be top of the league, no doubt in my mind. They’ve beaten Exeter, Northampton and Bath so far this season, I mean these are top flight teams who are vying for or in the top third of the premiership table, yet thanks to some terrible results against sides that Glos could and should have taken to task, they are lying in the unenviable position of the bottom third. You can start to see the sparks of inspiration starting to fire in this Gloucester squad, but the sparks need to stop and the inferno needs to start. I’ve said it time and time again, but these boys are a great team, they have a great coach and they have fantastic facilities. I know there has been a bit of churn at Kingsholm and people will say “Give Ackerman a year, let the team gel”, but they don’t need it, they’re all professionals and although it takes a little time, you really want to see consistent wins, especially on those “gimme” games that should be put to bed every time.
All that to one side though; Sunday was a masterclass in what a bit of grit and determination and not rolling over when your beaten looks like. It’s always a bit of a strange game to attend or play at down at The Rec because the Gloucester fans don’t travel down there “en masse” but for the handful that do, they are so loud in comparison to the Bath fans, you might as well be at home and I think it was that bit of extra noise that was the 16th man for Gloucester and driving them over the line.
Elsewhere in the league it was somewhat business as usual with the one exception of Sale Sharks holding Exeter to a very narrow score line and losing by just four points at home. They are looking pretty handy in their own back yard this season. Demolishing Gloucester and holding their own very nicely against last year’s champions. Good show.
The woes of Worcester continue, but things are in line for a stir up at Sixways as incumbent DOR Gary Gold is hanging up they playbook in Worcester as he steps into the position of Head Coach for the USA National squad. So who is going to fill the boots at the Warriors? Big question indeed and very difficult to know who could even be on the shopping list at the moment? Suffice to say, whoever does step into the breach, they have got a task on their hands. A big one! Played 7 won 0. Again, much like your Gloucester’s of this world, these are all professionals they know the size of the task at hand and I dare say with a bit of a mix up at the top they could be back to winning ways in no time. It is tough though, no one goes into the office wanting to do a bad job but sometimes you catch yourself doing the same thing and getting the same result not through lack of passion, drive or skill, but because something has become the standard and a change is needed to shake things back to life. I hope they do.
Something a bit different again this weekend as the Anglo-Welsh rolls into town and another chance for the teams to stretch their legs against the best in the country, but this first weekend is very much a proving ground for everything premiership and let us see if the likes of Gloucester can hold their nerve against a comparable team and if Worcester can see off Sale in their own back yard; Sale have been formidable at home this season but travel like a working horse after a hard days graft.
All to play for and nothing to lose for a lot of teams this weekend, so let’s see some more fireworks