Simpson-Daniel's England dash

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The Independent Online

That was how long it took the magnificent Gloucester forwards to take advantage of sloppy work at the kick-off by the Ospreys and work the ball back to one of the most potent finishers in the England game.

Simpson-Daniel, 23, was last week named in Andy Robinson's 30-man squad for the forthcoming autumn internationals.

"The encouraging thing is he has selected me in a squad of 30 players," said the wing, "so it means that at least I must be there or thereabouts. But there are five players for the back three places."

Simpson-Daniel, who has been beset by injury and illness, has to get some competitive mileage behind him as quickly as possible in order to hone his cutting edge still further. This curate's egg of a Powergen Cup match, watched by a less than half full stadium, was only his second appearance of the season in Gloucester's colours.

Of course he has to stay injury-free, which might be harder than it sounds since he has a medical history almost as long as his name. At least he came through this opening group match unscathed and was able to inflict an early injury, in the form of that opening try, on the dangerous Welsh side.

As the match progressed, the Ospreys' backs looked to pose more of a threat. There was an assurance and purpose to their every move. They each seemed to understand the others' game and they were superbly marshalled by their fly-half Matthew Jones, who displayed street smarts and cunning little touches throughout.

But the Ospreys' main problem was that they were without a clutch of their leading players, including the Lions Shane Williams, Gavin Henson and Ryan Jones. Up front, Gloucester's pack was made to scrap but eventually took control of the set piece and the line-outs.

The Welsh side were not helped by the whistle-happy referee Roy Maybank, who dammed the flow of the game with penalties on an unacceptable 36 occasions.

While not all of the stoppages were down to fussy officiating - because the Ospreys were not averse to doing dumb things on the ground - still Maybank could have employed a more relaxed touch and allowed things to develop.

How this revamped competition develops after a match that exploded into action before fizzling out with a whisper rather than a whimper remains to be seen.

Fewer errors and a more adventurous approach from all concerned would be a start, though.

Gloucester: Tries Simpson-Daniel, Paul; Conversion Mercier 2; Penalties Mercier 3. Ospreys: Try Tandy; Conversion M Jones.

Gloucester: J Goodridge; J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall (capt), H Paul, M Foster; L Mercier, H Thomas; N Wood (T Sigley, 64), M Davies, G Powell, A Eustace, A Brown, J Boer (M Cornwell, 80), A Hazell, J Forrester (L Narraway, 78).

Ospreys: S Connor; R Mustoe, S Parker, L Davies, J Vaughton (A Bishop, 13); J Spice (R Wells, 77), M Jones; D Jones (P James, 64), B Williams (capt; H Bennett, 72), A Jones (A Millward, 52-80), B Cockbain (I Evans, 72), A Newman, L Bateman, S Tandy (R Pugh, 64), L Beach.

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).