Best of the Weekend: Gloucester surprises Bath

Ben Coles looks back on another rugby weekend, sharing his thoughts on the best of the action. Let us know what you particularly enjoyed this weekend.

James Simpson-Daniel

Gloucester’s win gives us a great excuse for a picture of Sinbad

Gloucester spring a surprise at the Rec

Starting where the weekend began on Friday night, Gloucester took on Bath at the Rec in abysmal conditions. There are times to play with ambition and, whilst courageous, in the wet on a Friday night is not the time. Bath learned this hard way, whilst Gloucester’s strategy given the weather was excellent, especially from fly half Nicky Robinson – the Welsh 10 was a drop goal away from a full house in an impressive kicking performance. You would have thought that Sir Ian McGeechan and Steve Meehan would have masterminded another home win, but Bryan Redpath will be in much better spirits than he has been so far this season.

Leinster triumph over Munster at the Aviva

Ahead of the Heineken Cup next week, two of Europe’s giants met at the Aviva Stadium in a tight game that saw Brian O’Driscoll’s try prove the difference. In front of an impressive crowd of 50,645, Munster missed the attacking threat of Keith Earls, and suffered their fifth loss in a row against the men from Dublin. It was a must win game for Leinster after three losses in four Magners League games so far this season, and it should give them a significant boost in the build up to another European campaign.

Walder snatches it at Sale

A drop goal in the 79th minute saw Wasps snatch a win at Edgeley Park away from Sale. Whilst Wasps’ form has been rather up and down, Walder so far has given a series of impressive performances, and although his opposite number Charlie Hodgson was similarly flawless in kicking 8 penalties, Walder’s 20-point haul proved crucial. Needless to say Sale coach Mike Brewer was less than pleased.

Irish stay top as the Premiership takes a break

After the first five round of Aviva Premiership rugby, Irish sit top after overcoming a very stern challenge from Leeds as they triumphed 40-24 at the Madejski. Northampton also defeated another relegation candidate in Exeter in a tighter-than-expected affair, holding off a second half comeback from the Chiefs. Along with Saracens, following their victory over Leicester where Derick Hougaard again starred scoring 16 points, you feel that it should be two of these three who will be competing in the final come May.

Meanwhile at the bottom, Leeds have just one point on the board after five games. Their spirit against Irish was admirable and some of their play very promising, but the results need to start coming, and soon.

Try of the weekend goes to Exeter’s Luke Arscott. No space, being tackled by two men, he still managed to dot down in the corner to get Exeter the losing bonus point at Franklin’s Gardens. A really high-quality finish.

This weekend’s Hero is Schalk Brits of Saracens. The “2” on the back of his shirt really is just a number; his running game and sidestep gave Leicester headaches all afternoon. He was on hand to go over after Chris Wyles’ break through the defence, and then brilliantly off-loaded out of the tackle to put in Richard Wigglesworth minutes later. His apparent concussion in the second half looked serious, but for the sake of the Premiership and Saracens’ Heineken Cup hopes, hopefully he won’t be out for too long.

The Villains of the weekend are a couple of creaking scrums. Newcastle and Saracens should expect some gruelling sessions on the scrum machine this week after both packs crumbled repeatedly, both resulting in referees Poite and White heading under the posts.

That’s all for this week, bring on the Heineken Cup action.

By Ben Coles (@bennycoles)

By Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images

22 thoughts on “Best of the Weekend: Gloucester surprises Bath

  1. I was right about GLos winning but wrong about TIndall – top class game!
    Atwood looked pretty fierce, Narraway looked good as well

  2. You were indeed correct in your prediction – I certainly didn’t see that coming. Tindall was immense, and made a strong case for selection in the autumn…look out for that in the Scout Notes tomorrow!

  3. “There are times to play with ambition and, whilst courageous, in the wet on a Friday night is not the time.”

    That’s odd, because Gloucester Rugby managed it. Just check out the passing and the offloads in particular which led to their two tries.

  4. Perhaps ambition is the wrong word, but I think the point is that Bath were throwing the ball around and dropping it all evening, and they didn’t change their tactics when Plan A clearly wasn’t working.

    Gloucester looked outstanding when it was on, with delightful hands from Robinson in particular, but then they didn’t chuck wide passes and try to force the game when it wasn’t on. Certainly no lack of ambition from Gloucester…

  5. Fantastic game by Glaws. I was really happy how we fronted up against our fiercest rivals and came away with a monumental win. This should kick start our season I hope. We have been panned by the pundits and critics alike before the season even started, saying we would be lucky to finish 6th this season. In the words of Kevin Keegan “I would love it, just love it…” if we could show them how wrong they are. C’mon Glaws!!!

  6. Absolutely – exactly what was needed, and should be a massive psychological boost just before the break for European Rugby, and they’ll be in good shape when the AP resumes…

  7. IM not gloating but i felt a Glos win was on the cards, against the odds, when i looked at their squad. what a squad!!

    to have atwood on the bench…i thought he outshone Jim hamilton and carried on his efforts from Down under. cant see him on the bench again.

    Chalrie sharples? where did he come from! Looks quick and skilled and best display of full back tackling ive seen this season, took down everything that moved, not going for big hits but executing the tackle well. Made banahan look average in attack.

    I hope sinbad gets a call up. he look a class apart in the wet.

    Exeter are no longer my 2nd fav team, glos are!

  8. Charlie Sharples is ex academy. We have bought loads of youth through to the first team at Glos. Like Freddie Burns, Dave Lewis, Gordie Pasquilain, Johnny May etc etc…
    Sharples has bulked up a touch this season and is fast becoming better than Olly Morgan
    (without the injuries), and thats saying something. He is so fast its unreal. and physical to boot.
    My second team is Gloucester reserves lol

  9. Sharples tackling really was was exceptional for a smallish guy.
    Andy is right, i think he looks better than morgan, who is always injured poor lad.

  10. I can’t let the opportunity pass to be able to mention Andy Hazell. Gloucester born and bred and an outstanding tackle count season in season out. He’s not the biggest Like Akapusi Quera but a natural 7 in all respects. His work rate in never in doubt. Not many like him anymore.

  11. He didnt start too well in a couple of games so far this season in the line out. Hamilton and Alex Brown are also a bit taller and we needed height in the first half to disrupt Baths line-out.
    Then bring Attwood on to be another enforcer. He’s also not a bad jumper, but he’s young and we needed the experience at first.

  12. With regards to the ambition comment, I think generally speaking in conditions like on Friday night it’s a risky strategy. Gloucester certainly did make it work, but in the more general sense it’s tough to be able to build possession and attacks if you’re flinging a slippery ball from left to right.

    I had Bath firmly down to win on Friday night, so fair play to Redpath and his team.

  13. But Glos managed it Ben, so both teams were playing under the same conditions. Bath played like we did at Exeter on the opening game. We thought we had that game in the bag in good conditions and got turned over big time. Bath just did the same. They thought they just had to turn up to win, and before they knew it they were 3 – 18 down and it was too late.

  14. The definitely did Andy you’re right, but I would bet that in the same conditions 7 times out of 10 such a plan would backfire.

  15. To be fair Ben you’re probably right, but I suppose fortune favoured us Friday night and boy did we need that. Where I come from, if we never won a game all season but beat Bath at home, then the team would be forgiven. lol. Well almost. We have both Quins and Leicester as our next 2 Premiership games at home, so fingers crossed. Its a hard place to win at Castle Grim Kingholm.

  16. Andy I was at the game at the Madejski a few weeks ago and was generally a bit worried about Gloucester. I hope they’ve turned a corner after Friday night, Quins and Leicester at home will be tough matches. Chance to give some top boys a rest over the Amlin weekends and hit the next few rounds hard.

  17. The London Irish game wasnt helped by the referee either Ben. I know we played badly but we never have had a penalty count of 19 in one game before. Barely half that amount. I don’t know if you heard or not but The Head of Referees sent gloucester a written apology after that game on behalf of David Rose. That says a lot.

  18. Got to agree with you Andy it was a very high penalty count! And you don’t get many written apologies. I certainly think they can finish in the top 6, but not sure on whether they could make the play-offs.

  19. Ha ha I wouldn’t want to take your money Ben. We will finish 3rd or 4th is my prediction. Wasps won’t finish in the top 4. It will probably be something like Saracens 1st Leicester 2nd Irish 3rd and Glos 4th. Your thoughts?

  20. I just wonder if Leicester could be too far gone by Christmas given their injuries. And I can’t see there being a final 4 without Northampton being involved in there somewhere. As I wrote in the column, I reckon Saracens, Northampton and Irish are certainties, and then one of Gloucester/Bath/Leicester for the remaining spot! One thing is obvious though, it will be just like the Ryder Cup today, going right down to the final game!

  21. Sorry Ben I forgot all about Northampton. Replace them for leicester. I make you right about Leicester, theyre not going too well either. But I will reserve judgement on Bath for a few weeks.
    They started poorly last season and still reached a Heineken cup spot. We need to play like we did on Friday but for the rest of the season which should rid us of this tag of having a soft underbelly. We have Big Jim Hamilton and Dave Attwood now as the 2 Mr Nasties. And Olly Azam of course. (Praise be unto him)

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