The cry across the land may be for a tenacious openside flanker and some runners to hit gaps rather than men but in Gloucester they would settle for some good old-fashioned cabbage-eared lumps to smash 10 bales out of opponents.
If they had them instead of a weak front row they would probably have won this local derby, as Bristol's whole blueprint for survival in the Premiership has been designed round a stubborn bunch of oafs led by Mark Regan. The former England hooker could start a fight in an empty room and with his colleagues following his example, they dragged Gloucester into a guerrilla scrap that gave the visitors their best chance of winning.
It may not be pretty rugby, but it is smart. In itself it does not guarantee victory but it gives Bristol hope and yesterday they seized a win in the 72nd minute, when Brian Lima chased a cross-field kick and hacked the bouncing ball on before gathering cleanly to sprint 40 yards to the posts. "Sprint" might be a tad generous to the Samoan, as power is more his style, but it was thankfully so as he dragged two desperate Gloucester tacklers the final few yards.
Ironically it was the dismissal of one lump that helped Bristol as Terry Sigley, a frequent skirmisher in the side of rucks throughout, finally lost his temper and tap-danced a bit too strongly on a Bristol head. Maybe he was frustrated at his own forwards' play, or just consumed by the red mist, but the result was a red card and numerical advantage for 20 minutes to Bristol.
It also meant uncontested scrums - is there a less dignified sight in rugby? - and a whole group of back-row forwards on the pitch. This should have helped Gloucester, whose pre-match plan was for back row to back line rugby, as they knew their set-pieces were weak. But in Matt Salter and Dan Ward-Smith they found two worthy opponents.
However, Gloucester only have themselves to blame, as in the opening 90 seconds they had scored a superb try. Anthony Allen, a wonderfully talented 19-year-old who has earned favourable reports with England's under-21s, and Mark Foster made breaks which resulted in James Simpson-Daniel shooting through a gap and to the line like a startled hare. It promised a display of back play to enthral and scores to enjoy, but the next try was in the 50th minute - for Bristol and by Shaun Perry. The plaudits were for his forwards, who had maintained pressure on the Gloucester line for five minutes.
It levelled the match and when Sigley was removed it needed something special from Gloucester. They got it courtesy of Allen in the left corner - he is surprisingly difficult to tackle - but the 14 men wearied and Lima secured a win that could keep Bristol in the Premiership.
Gloucester: J Goodridge; J Bailey, J Simpson-Daniel, A Allen, M Foster; L Mercier (R Lamb, 73), H Thomas; P Collazo (T Sigley, 20), M Davies, J Forster, J Pendlebury (A Eustace, 59), A Brown, P Buxton (capt), J Forrester (L Narraway, 62), A Hazell.
Bristol: V Going; L Robinson, R Higgitt, S Cox, B Lima; J Strange, S Perry; D Hilton (R Winters, 69), M Regan, D Crompton, N Budgett (M Sambucetti, 73), G Llewellyn, M Salter (capt), D Ward-Smith (S Nelson, 35), J El Abd, (C Short, 69).
Referee: W Barnes (Gloucestershire).Reuse content