Gloucester relieved to find glass is half full

Gloucester 19 Glasgow 6
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The Independent Online

There was a moment – 40 minutes worth of moments, in fact – when Glasgow felt they had found a way into uncharted territory. Never before had they recorded a Heineken Cup victory on English soil, so when the Scots reached the break six points to the good, having dominated the loose exchanges through their international flanker John Barclay and taken the Gloucester lineout to the cleaners for good measure, a ground-breaking victory was surely on the cards. After all, their hosts were a shambles. Weren't they?

As it turned out, they were anything but. As the second half unfolded, the West Countrymen rediscovered enough of the best of themselves to score two excellent tries and would have doubled the tally but for a butter-fingered fumble and an unforced forward pass. When their much put-upon coach, Bryan Redpath, suggested his players were nowhere near as bad as some folk had been suggesting, the critics cast their minds back to the poverty of the previous outing – against Glasgow, as it happened – and decided he was talking through his you-know-what. They may want to reconsider that view in the light of some of the rugby played at Kingsholm yesterday.

When the likes of Olly Morgan, James Simpson-Daniel and Nicky Robinson play as well as they did for 50 per cent of yesterday's contest, it is difficult to work out how Gloucester lose the games they do. When you add in the power generated by their outstanding captain Gareth Delve, along with the aggression of Alasdair Strokosch and the 22-year-old lock Dave Attwood, it is not obvious why they lose at all.

The key is in the A-word. The aggression that marked the post-interval performance here is not apparent on a weekly basis; indeed, the Gloucester pack – once home to such frank and forthright citizens as Mike Burton and John Fidler – is nowhere near nasty enough, often enough. Yesterday's summoning of the furies was partly the result of frustration at the French referee Jerome Garces and his interesting take on the laws of the game, and partly born of the knowledge that defeat would have left Redpath at the mercy of Kingsholm's hang 'em high brigade, some of whom are to be found in the boardroom.

Gloucester were a bag of nerves early on. Robinson, Attwood, Simpson-Daniel and Rory Lawson all featured in a sweeping attack midway through the first quarter, but when Scott Lawson's scoring pass to Strokosch found the retreating Dave McCall instead, their confidence took another dip. With the energetic Barclay making his hosts suffer on the floor, Glasgow were good value for their lead.

That did not last. Shamed into decisive action, the Gloucester forwards gave Robinson two scoring shots at the start of the second half and were rewarded with the six points needed to square the argument. Simpson-Daniel's broken-field brilliance then presented Charlie Sharples with a try in the right corner and when the wing combined cleverly with Morgan and Robinson down the same flank 15 minutes later, the second wave of attack saw Strokosch feed Alex Brown for the wrap-up score.

Perhaps it was Brown's late tackle on the super-sized Ed Kalman that did most to confirm Gloucester as a team rediscovering some hunger. For months and years, there has been the suspicion that Cherry and White locks would struggle to hit the skin off a rice pudding. Suddenly, one of them was smashing seven bells out of a 19st prop on the hoof. Half-time team talks are amazing things, to be sure.

Gloucester: Tries Sharples, Brown; Penalties Robinson (3). Glasgow: Penalty Parks; Drop goal Parks.

Gloucester: O Morgan; C Sharples, J Simpson-Daniel, T Molenaar (E Fuimaono-Sapolu, 50), T Voyce; N Robinson, R Lawson (D Lewis, 83); N Wood, S Lawson, P Doran-Jones (G Somerville, 47), D Attwood (A Eustace, 76), A Brown, A Strokosch (L Narraway, 9-14), A Hazell (Narraway, 55), G Delve (capt).

Glasgow: B Stortoni (C Gregor, 62); D McCall, M Evans (C Shaw, 69), G Morrison, D Van der Merwe; D Parks, C Cusiter (M McMillan, 65); J Welsh (K Tkachuk, 51), D Hall (F Thomson, 62), M Low (E Kalman, 73), A Kellock (capt), R Gray (D Turner, 52), K Brown, J Barclay, R Vernon (J Beattie, 62).

Referee: J Garces (France).

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