Gloucester 44 Sale 24: Fighting-fit Tindall eager for national service

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The Independent Online

Mike Tindall is a light-weight. He proved that in Gloucester's five-try trouncing of Sale at Kingsholm.

There was a sharpness to Tindall, a hunger to be involved and pace that was reminiscent of the England centre's form a few years ago. The 28-year-old's prodigious strength allowed him to offload with impunity in contact.

"I am a little bit lighter and I just feel really good," Tindall said. "I have not consciously tried to lose weight; it is just training. I am 10lb lighter, which puts me at around 16st. Yet I am stronger than I have been in a long time. And being that little bit lighter does help when it comes to having to run a bit quicker."

Tindall is expected to start Saturday's Calcutta Cup match against Scotland at Twickenham. "We have every reason to be optimistic about England," he stated. "We've got a lot of good players. And England training last week was completely different.

"Tuesday morning was one of the best England sessions I have done in years, it was fun, it challenged the players and that is the big thing. And there were no meetings. Brian [Ashton] hates meetings. The problem is, that when you have a disappointing run, the pressure gets a little more each training session. Now it actually feels as if we have a clean slate."

Gloucester's head coach, Dean Ryan, said: "[Mike] has been outstanding. He has been in good form for a number of weeks. Without him we are a completely different back line."

Sale's Philippe Saint-André was stoical. His team have just played seven hard games and suffered a spate of injuries to key players. Mercifully, there now followtwo weeks with no club rugby and Saint-André and his assistant, Kingsley Jones, have blooded an outstanding prospect ­ Rhys Jones, son of Kingsley.

"I didn't think our paths would cross for another year or 18 months," said Kingsley, "but the injuries dictated otherwise." Rhys, a fly-half, was a member of the 2006 Grand Slam winning Wales Under-19 side. He may have been out of position, at full-back, but he did not look out of his depth.

Gloucester: Tries Lamb, Balshaw, Azam, Bortolami, Morgan; Conversions Lamb 2, Mercier 3; Penalties Lamb, Mercier; Drop goal Lamb. Sale: Tries Foden, Schofield, Mayor; Conversions R Jones 3; Penalty R Jones.

Gloucester: I Balshaw; J Bailey, J Adams (O Morgan, 73), M Tindall, J Simpson-Daniel; R Lamb (L Mercier, 40), R Lawson (P Richards, 68); C Califano (N Wood, 54), O Azam (M Davies, 54), C Nieto, M Bortolami (capt; W James, 80), A Brown, P Buxton, A Hazell, A Balding (L Narraway, 80).

Sale: R Jones; C Bell, C Mayor, M Taylor, O Ripol (A Vilk, 44); R Wigglesworth (M Riley, 80), B Foden; E Roberts (B Evans, 76), A Titterrell (S Bruno, 48), B Stewart (S Turner, 44), D Schofield, C Day, C Jones (D Tait, 44), I Fernandez-Lobbe, S Chabal (capt; M Hills, 80).

Referee: A Spreadbury (Somerset).