Burns leaves indelible mark as he enhances his reputation

 

Taken together, the sighs of relief from the England coaching team at the end of this minor Premiership classic at Kingsholm were enough to constitute a gale force wind. Toby Flood looked very sharp at outside-half for Leicester; his colleagues Dan Cole and Geoff Parling applied God's amount of pressure, at scrum and line-out respectively; Freddie Burns reinforced the already overwhelming impression that he is an international No 10 in waiting; Billy Twelvetrees did something similar with regards to the No 12 position. But for some dodgy throwing from the hooker Tom Youngs, who would be positively lethal on a darts oche, it was just about perfect.

Yet perhaps the biggest bonus from the red-rose perspective was the news that the Gloucester flanker Akapusi Qera will not be available to Fiji for the opening Test of the autumn series at Twickenham in 12 days' time. Qera was at his most electrifying on Saturday: big, powerful and athletic in the uniquely threatening South Seas way, he scored one try, had a big hand in another and was generally into everything. It helped that his direct opponent, the slightly less aerodynamic Thomas Waldrom, was playing out of position – the Anglicised New Zealander is nobody's idea of hot-shot breakaway – but on this showing, Qera would have given Richie McCaw a run for his money.

Nigel Davies, the Gloucester coach, said afterwards that the Fijian had rejected an opportunity to tour with his national team – "He's made the decision that he wants to concentrate on his rugby here, which is great for us" – and went on to laud Qera's influence on the side, which has taken on added significance since the 14-week ban recently imposed on the most experienced of the club's loose forwards, Andy Hazell. Fiji's loss is unquestionably Gloucester's gain.

Whatever the rights, wrongs and realities behind international selection in the Pacific islands – while Samoa and Tonga have been able to draw heavily on personnel professionally contracted in Britain and France for their forthcoming tours, the Fijians find themselves in a different place – there is no denying the scale of the South Seas impact on the Premiership. Qera and the Tongan flanker Sione Kalamafoni started this game for the home side; Leicester arrived with a Fijian wing in Vereniki Goneva, a Samoan prop in Logovi'i Mulipola and a Tongan back-rower in Steve Mafi. All but Mulipola, who did not reach the interval, were major players in the production.

And what a production. Burns, mollycoddled through the build-up by a Gloucester hierarchy alarmed at the publicity surrounding him, was nothing short of brilliant in the early stages. The kick that set the game in motion was so perfectly judged, it allowed Twelvetrees to win the first aerial contest and set in train events that led to the outside-half creating a score for Charlie Sharples with the most subtle of toe-pokes. Burns then chipped to himself for touchdown number two before finding Sharples with a long diagonal punt that bordered on the visionary. Had the England wing nailed that opportunity, all "try of the season" debates would have been put to bed.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



If his tactical kicking game went a little wonky midway through the opening half; if the recurrence of an ankle injury hampered him for a while; if Leicester's close-quarter ferocity denied him a glimpse of the ball for much of the second period … while all these things happened, it didn't much matter. Burns emerged from the contest with reputation enhanced, as it has been match on match throughout the campaign. He is building one hell of a case for himself.

As is his wont at the moment, Davies was keen to lower expectations. "He's still a bit of a mixed bag – he gets a little lost at times and we're working hard on his game management – but overall, we have to feel very positive," he said. The coach was far happier heaping praise on James Simpson-Daniel, whose spellbinding out-in rampage from broken play presented Qera with the try that would win the match. "James is an international wing," he said. "Whether he plays international rugby is not in my gift, but that's what he is."

It may be difficult to see Simpson-Daniel playing Test rugby again, more's the pity, but it is easy to see Burns with a white shirt on his back. Which explains Davies's thinking. The old stager stopped being dazzled by the bright lights years ago. The kid? He could yet be blinded by them.

Gloucester: Tries Sharples, Burns, Qera. Conversions Burns 3. Penalties Burns 2. Leicester: Tries Hamilton, penalty try. Conversion Flood. Penalties Flood 3.

Gloucester R Cook; C Sharples, M Tindall (capt), W Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel; F Burns, J Cowan; N Wood (D Murphy 61), H Edmonds (K Britton 53), R Harden (S Knight 53), T Savage (P Buxton 57), W James, S Kalamafoni (M Cox 59), A Qera, B Morgan.

Leicester G Murphy (capt); S Hamilton, M Tuilagi, A Allen, V Goneva; T Flood, S Harrison; L Munipola (M Ayerza 36), T Youngs, D Cole, L Deacon, G Parling, S Mafi, T Waldrom, J Crane (E Slater 18).

Referee J P Doyle (London West).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
health
Sport
A view of today's Spanish papers
football
Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch films his performance as Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
film
News
people

Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London