European Rugby for Gloucester?!
Whichever way you look at it, beating those pesky injuns was a great result. Four Premiership points are worth their weight in gold and they actually give this season some meaning: seventh position in the Premiership, as I understand it, would give us a shot at European Rugby next season. All sorts of permutations are still possible and we can now view our remaining matches as much more than just a long warm-up to the next.
So that’s all good, then. A win, as they say, is a win.
Listening to the match on Saturday was a nerve-wracking experience. To be honest I wasn’t listening to it at all – if I can’t physically be at a match, I relish the running commentary from the posters on Shedweb. But Shedweb crashed (again) at a very vital moment and I think the last posting before the ‘database error’ message appeared was: ‘Times up (sic) and we are down to 13 men, scrum down on our line’.
What a time to crash! So I feverishly turned to the BBC rugby results page and went through agony waiting for the page to refresh every two minutes. Nail biting, or what!
Anyway, all’s well that ends well – Exeter’s the last-gasp kick to win the match didn’t happen and Gloucester drove back up the M5 with a comfortable one-point thrashing under their belts.
But I was reminded of the Fans Forum back in February (or whenever it was) when our Nige was banging on about the matches that had been lost by just a few miserly points. His point being that the importance of a good goal kicker cannot be underestimated and that a decent goal kicker was therefore his priority in his world-wide search for new recruits.
Now, looking back at the (too) many matches we’ve played and lost this season, the fact that we’ve missed 50% of our shots at goal (I made that up, but it can’t be too far off the mark) has been a telling statistic over the course of the season. Against Exeter we kicked 60% which meant we could never pull away which meant they had the opportunity to win the match at the end.
If we’d had an 80% success rate over the course of this season, just how different would our position be?
The importance of our Nige’s words were for all to see last Saturday at Sandy Park. For the sake of a good kicker, and despite all the good work during the match – they tackled their cotton socks off – winning the blessed game was not, at the death, anything we had control over. With their final kick of the match, the game was Exeter’s to win or lose.
Fortunately for us, they lost it.
In the week leading up to the Exeter match we were treated to a carefully orchestrated roll-out of new signings and we got a week’s worth of new faces – one a day, to be precise.
Monday’s child is fair of face: Aled Thomas is a good looker, all right, and a bit of a sevens expert. He’s from Wales – the clue is in the name – and will be slotting into the squad as fly half either as first choice or, I suppose, as back up to Greig Laidlaw or someone. Or something.
Tuesday’s child is full of grace: I don’t know about grace but Mark Atkinson is a big guy with, we are told, a fine off-loading game, and is destined to bolster the midfield. In his time with Bedford Blues, he’s been getting a bit of a name for himself as something special. I always look forward to something special.
Wednesday’s child is full of woe: our Nige has certainly been busy across the border and Tom Isaacs , a ‘strong running’ scrum-half-turned-centre seems to have impressed. I’m really pleased to hear that he’s strong and that he can run and I’m sure that all the woe emanating from this guy will be felt by the opposition.
Thursday’s child has far to go: well, Stevie McColl, a Scot from Leeds, will be making the long journey from up north, so there is a bit of travelling involved. This guy is a specialist full back so Rob Cook will at last be able to take a breather every now and then.
Friday’s child is loving and giving: How, therefore, can we not love Tom Palmer. He’ll be bringing shed-loads of experience to Gloucester and the club will benefit from and enjoy this second-row forward. No doubt about that, and I’m confident he’ll soon be a Kingsholm favourite.
I wonder if that concludes the business that our Nige has been doing since the mid-term report. Only time will tell, I suppose.