How did it go down?
Gloucester opened the scoring sixteen minutes in after Willi Heinz took the ball from a lineout and fed young winger Henry Purdy, who cut against the direction of play and through the Gloucester defence before being stopped by a last-ditch ankle tap from Sinoti Sinoti. Gloucester secured the ball and hit Andy Symons just off the ruck for a try on the very next phase. Five minutes later Jeremy Thrush took the ball at the front of a lineout on the Newcastle 22 meter line and sold a dummy back to his hooker before stepping inside the covering defence to score what was a beautifully executed set-piece move. Newcastle came within feet of hitting back almost immediately but couldn’t find a way through as Gloucester scrambled brilliantly. A sustained period of pressure from Newcastle was followed by a brilliant piece of skill from Gloucester wing Purdy, who chipped over the Newcastle defence and while surrounded by Newcastle bodies volleyed the ball to score in the corner. Newcastle hit back into the Gloucester half again before choosing to kick a hard earned penalty into the corner. This time they were able to drive the ball over closing the gap to 7-19 at the end of a disappointing half for the home side.
Toby Flood entered the fray at half time and despite conceding three more points from the boot Newcastle looked more impressive at the beginning of the second half. They had an opening back into the match when a sustained period of pressure saw Billy Twelvetrees sent to the sin bin in the 48th minute. Again they kicked the the corner and again Gloucester held them out, this time with fourteen men. Newcastle dominated possession during the ten minutes that Twelvetrees was off but they couldn’t reduce Gloucester’s lead at all. The next try wasn’t until the 68th minute and it was the Cherry & Whites who struck, fullback Hudson ran a hard, fast line off the scrumhalf and while he was stopped just short of the line replacement prop Gareth Denman was able to muscle over shortly after for the bonus point try. This was to be the last try of the evening and the game finished with a final score 29-7 to Gloucester.
What did we learn?
- I’ve probably not given Gloucester enough credit – In previewing this match I mentioned that Gloucester have had some great results without ever really looking particularly impressive, but this certainly wasn’t the case on Friday night as they achieved another great result. To be truthful I was baffled at their form but Ugo Monye kindly shed some light on the situation prematch by pointing out their excellent defence in recent weeks and that was certainly on display, with Newcastle consistently struggling to get any change out of them. Gloucester on the other hand took their chances brilliantly when they came along and on recent form will be aiming for a top-four finish.
- Henry Purdy is now the flavor of the month – I’m very open about my love for Gloucester’s Henry Trinder, but it was namesake Purdy who stole the show in his absence. Purdy raised eyebrows when he broke into the team as a young outside centre a few seasons ago but I felt his career had stalled since then. He has moved on to the wing and is looking very impressive this season with a combination of hard running, decent speed and an impressive workrate. He is currently in the team for injured Gloucester stalwart Charlie Sharples and with young Ollie Thorley on the opposite wing being an interesting player in his own right Gloucester look like they are doing fine without Jonny May.
- Newcastle back down to earth – Newcastle’s success in the opening weeks of the season was one of my favorite plot lines and I was hoping that their recent defeats were a blip. Such a resounding loss at home is difficult to explain away and sadly it looks like they will be loitering in the mid-table for the foreseeable future unless they improve. They have a very accomplished coach in Dean Richards and a good squad so they could still return to form, but I’ll be putting my hopes of a playoff run for the northerners on hold for now.
How did that prediction go?
Well obviously I was dead wrong about this one. I thought Newcastle would win but Gloucester hammered them to back up their fantastic victory against Saracens. My own prediction form this season has mirrored Newcastle’s on-pitch performances in a few ways so I will be hoping that they can return to their best.