Posted in match reports

View from the south stand: Sale 16 Gloucester 18

The loud ‘thump’ heard at the AJ Bell at around ten to five on Saturday afternoon was a combination of Rob Du Preez’s kick hitting the post and Sale Sharks coming back to earth.

The game

…was rather forgettable. Indeed, I’ve forgotten most of it and so, since I don’t intend subjecting myself to the tedium of watching it again, this section is likely to be a bit short.

For about fifty minutes, Sale had the upper hand ā€“ 10-0 at half time was a fair reflection of the play, I thought. Well, yes, they were worth the lead, but it should have been more. A couple of tries went begging, and there was little real penetration for all of Sale’s possession and territorial dominance. As we noted at the time, we have all this possession, but so did Australia earlier that morning. Prescient words…

After all that dominance, with not enough to show for it, a five-minute change in the tide of fortune had Gloucester take a narrow lead, which then see-sawed for the remainder of the game until that fateful, final penalty with the clock dead and 6,000-odd people watching through gaps in their fingers.

The takeaways

  • The lineout problems stemmed mostly, I felt, from Gloucester having a couple of experienced and talented stealers, whilst Sale played a back-rower there. Yes, a couple went agley, but that wasn’t why Glos were not concerned whenever we got a lineout.
  • “Who is this person with the quick, accurate pass, and what have you done with Cliffy?” was the question being asked during that first half. OK, that’s a bit unfair ā€“ I suspect that a pack that can present clean ball more quickly gives him more of chance to show what he can do. No scrummie looks good with slow ball.
  • We finally have two, complete, first-class front rows. Not to be sniffed at.
  • The Three Dupreez are a great band, but I don’t think we need all of them on the pitch at once, same as we don’t necessarily want two flavours of Curry at the same time.

And finally…

I’m disappointed that, once again, we let a decent lead slip. Too reminiscent of the old days, and not indicative enough of the bright future we’re looking forward to.

But I’m not disheartened. We ran a very good team very close and could have nicked it at the end (and that wouldn’t have been undeserved). I’ll repeat what I said in my report of the first game against Northampton:

If we can get a full season out of Ashton and Rohan and if Yarde is back to full blazing speed (and if Denny wakes up quicker than he did last season), then we should consider anything less than top six a failure, given the quality on display, even when ring rusty.

Iā€™d say top four, but there are enough new players and sufficient disruption this season that I would consider that a bonus, rather than an expectation.

This game gives me no reason to change that view.

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Author:

Photographer and science geek. Rugby fan (Sale Sharks).