Savage's Roundhead instinct dethrones Wasps

Gloucester 29 Wasps 22


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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot