Rugby Union: Gloucester wake up

Wakefield 21 Gloucester 25
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The Independent Online
Wakefield, who have so often proclaimed the message that being Second Division does not necessarily mean being second class, were forced by a rampant Gloucester pack to accept second best in this abrasive and bad- tempered quarter-final at College Grove yesterday.

Deprived of extending their four-month unbeaten cup and league run when they went down to Bristol in midweek, Gloucester were anxious to regain their winning habit. Wakefield were equally mindful that two seasons ago they beat Gloucester 19-9 here in the fourth round. Any chance of a repeat rested on the Yorkshiremen being able to hold the Gloucester forwards. Gloucester eights may not be nearly so threatening these days as some of their packs of yesteryear, but they still carry more menace than is usually found in the middle of League Two, where Wakefield reside.

For the moment, ignore the scoreline. That only took on its final shape in the closing minutes, when the Wakefield outside-half Mike Jackson claimed two tries, the first of which he converted, to add to his three penalty goals. The game had been nicely balanced with Gloucester leading 13-3, Wakefield having played the first half up the slope and into a stiff breeze. In the opening quarter the Gloucester backs had made so many unforced errors from abundant possession that Dave Sims, Phil Greening and the back row decided to take matters into their own hands and seize control of the game.

Mark Mapletoft missed with two early penalties but struck with his third. Gloucester were then awarded a penalty try when the Wakefield front row collapsed a five-metre scrum, which Gloucester had opted to take from a penalty at the line-out. After Jackson kicked his second penalty, Wakefield sensed that if they could stretch the defence by bringing width to their play, the threat from the Gloucester forwards might be nullified.

Before they could test that theory, Wakefield handed Gloucester another five-metre scrum. This time the home pack held together even though Gloucester were shoving them backwards. The resulting collapse, which prompted the referee to award a second penalty try, was Gloucester's fault, according to the Wakefield coach Jim Kilfoyle. "Tony Windo took it down," he said. "I'm surprised a referee of Tony Spreadbury's experience allowed himself to be old-manned by a trick like that. But he was on the other side of the scrum, and from there on there was no way back."

Even so, there was no let-up in the ferocity that earned Sims a yellow card and Jackson another penalty goal. As a token of their appreciation for the hitherto unseen running game, the Gloucester forwards relented to allow Mike Peters to run in a try after Don Caskie's delicate chip fell invitingly to hand. Jackson's flourish, enjoyable as it was, brought only a hint of what Wakefield might have achieved had they more ball to play with.

Wakefield: P Massey (P White, 75); A McClarron, P Maynard, I Wynn, R Thompson; M Jackson, D Scully; P Lancaster, T Garnett, R Latham, S Croft (capt), A. Bailey (J Griffiths, 40), P Stewart, P Manley, D Hendry.

Gloucester: C Catling; M Peters, D Caskie, M Roberts (C Emerson, 64), M Lloyd; M Mapletoft (M Kimber, 63), S Benton; T Windo, P Greening, A Deacon, R Fidler, D Sims (capt), P Glanville, N Carter, S Devereux.

Referee: T Spreadbury (Bristol).