Savage's Roundhead instinct dethrones Wasps

Gloucester 29 Wasps 22

Kingsholm

Savage. Now there's a name for a Gloucester lock. Those of us who fondly remember the good old, bad old days in the Wild West Country– or, in the case of the squeamish, cannot forget them for love nor money – vividly recall the pugilistic havoc wreaked by generations of gnarled Cherry and White second-rowers whose Saturday afternoons were grievously incomplete if their opponents left Kingsholm in full possession of their faculties. Stealing a line-out ball in front of the Shed was akin to pickpocketing the Kray twins.

It is a different game now, but there was something about the way Tom Savage went about his work in the 29-22 win over Wasps at the weekend that struck a chord with the older generation of Gloucester watchers. No punches were thrown – there were no violent excesses of any kind, at least to the naked eye – but from the moment the 23-year-old from Shropshire greeted the 100-cap outside-half Stephen Jones with the mother and father of a first-up tackle, there was a whiff of danger about the place. If Jones was rugby royalty, Savage was cast in the Roundhead role. History told us there would be only one winner.

Gloucester are not entirely sure where Savage's optimum position might be: he is hardly a midget at 6ft 5in and 18st plus, but the best locks tend to offer still more when it comes to the tale of the tape. Sure enough, his lack of height contributed to the home side's difficulties at the line-out, where Wasps were armed with high-class operators in Tom Palmer and Marco Wentzel. But around the field, he was a proper handful – so much so that he appeared to be performing the blind-side flanker's duties as well as his own. If and when Nigel Davies hands him the No 6 shirt, the Kingsholm rugby director will have a serious player on his roster.

"Young players need the opportunity to play at the level they train," said the former Scarlets coach, who was almost as impressed with the contribution of a second youngster, the scrum-half Dan Robson. "That was the way I approached it during my time at Scarlets and I think it works. I thought Tom was outstanding. When you have a gut feeling about a player, it's nice to see him come through for the team."

And Gloucester are very much a team these days. Not so long ago, Wasps would have arrived at Kingsholm secure in the knowledge that their collective spirit, allied to vastly superior fitness levels, would see them right. Those advantages are no longer theirs to enjoy. The Londoners travelled with their sense of togetherness intact – no mean achievement, given the calamities and humiliations suffered under the recently departed owner Steve Hayes – but their hosts were able to match them in that department as well as keep pace in the final quarter.

Indeed, Gloucester would have built on the 17-point lead they established by the half-hour mark – a sugar-sweet strike from the sidestepping James Simpson-Daniel followed by a sucker-punch try direct from a ruck from Sione Kalamafoni, all nicely orchestrated by the fast-developing Freddie Burns at outside-half – with a little more discipline in the bread-and-butter areas of the game. Instead, they coughed up a soft score to Elliot Daly, albeit one brilliantly finished by the young centre, and allowed Jones to keep Wasps alive from the kicking tee.

Had the Londoners salvaged a draw at the death, as they might have done, many a Kingsholmite would have trudged off home muttering about the iniquities of the temporarily extended Television Match Official arrangement. Tommy Bell's penalty shot at the end of the first half deserved three points for brass neck alone – he was the best part of 60 metres distant – but many felt the ball drifted just wide of the right stick. At the very least, the officials should have asked for a review. Instead, they signalled the kick good and headed for the tunnel to a sour serenade of boos and hisses.

 

 

Later, a wholly innocent loose-ball chase between Billy Twelvetrees and Joe Simpson was given the full review treatment, for reasons no one could even begin to fathom. The sooner this dog's breakfast of a "trial" ends, preferably with convictions for all those responsible for sanctioning it, the better.

Gloucester: Tries Simpson-Daniel, Kalamafoni; Conversions Burns 2; Penalties Burns 5. Wasps : Try Daly; Conversion Jones; Penalties Jones 3, Bell, Robinson.

Gloucester R Cook; J May (M Tindall, 61), H Trinder, W Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel; F Burns (M Thomas, 75), D Robson (D Lewis, 69); N Wood (D Murphy, 69), D Dawidiuk (K Britton, 75), R Harden (S Knight, 65), T Savage, J Hamilton (capt), S Kalamafoni (W James, 75), A Hazell (A Qera, 65), B Morgan.

Wasps T Bell; C Wade, E Daly, A Masi, T Varndell; S Jones (N Robinson, 69), J Simpson; T Payne (S McIntyre, 69), R Thomas (T Lindsay, 56), S Taulafo (F Staibano, 59), T Palmer, M Wentzel (capt), J Haskell, J Poff (W Vunipola, 56), A Johnson.

Referee M Fox (Leicestershire).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?