Ollie 4 Gloucester 3
By LI Bohemian
February 25 2020
I went to the game on Saturday with very mixed feelings about what type of performance I might witness. Would it be the total capitulation I had previously seen at home, as in the Sale or Bath games? Or the brave, never give up, inventive, defend with your lives display, that I had seen on my screen in the previous two away games, as when Irish beat Northampton and Harlequins?
The signs were good, as there was more of a crowd Saturday than I had seen for a while, not massive but more.
The game kicked off and almost instantly Irish made a mistake in their "exit strategy" (as every pundit in rugby describes it). The guy sat in front of me, who thought he was still in the Shed, made a loud donkey braying noise. I made a mental note to myself to remind him about respecting players on both sides.
Irish managed to win possession and work the ball into the Gloucester twenty-two where they were awarded a penalty. This was right in front of the posts. "Hooray", I thought but astonishingly they opted for a scrum which was way too early to assume any scrum dominance as it was the first scrum of the game.
The end result of opting for a scrum was Gloucester breaking away and being awarded a penalty kick in Irish territory which Twelvetrees duly kicked.
This was the only time in the first half that Gloucester really showed any attacking intent. The Irish defense and attack upped its game to the away game standards. Rona and Hepetema making in-roads into Gloucester territory and being backed up by a physical display from the forwards.
The first of Ollie H-C’s tries came from a simple blind-side move off a 5 metre scrum. Gloucester really switched off but it was well executed.
His second was through some great play from Hepetema, firstly breaking the defensive line and secondly his quick hands making just enough space out wide for Ollie to score, bumping off and then dragging Louis R-Z with him via Ollie’s shorts.
12-3 at half-time it didn’t feel like Irish had done enough to pull away from the cherry and whites.
Right from the start of the second half Gloucester showed real intent. As if they had had a good stern talking to but they had forced the play too much with a long looping pass to the wing that was never on. Ollie snaffled the ball out of the air and raced off some sixty metres to score his third. Even at 17-3 I was not convinced Irish were home and dry.
Gloucester finally showed their quality. They had a little help from sir who at a Gloucester scrum on the Irish 5 metre line called for them to "use it" which they duly ignored and carried on driving the scrum after the call. The ball spilt from the back of the scrum and the scrum half darted over from the confusion.
Gloucester scored again virtually a copy of the Ollie’s first try but the one handed off load was from Cip’s and the touchline finish was closer.
Two young fans invaded the pitch running from east to west. I looked but could not see a check-point Charlie only two high viz wearing stewards who nabbed them as they pretended to be sitting calmly in the west stand. They were ejected.
The score was 17-15 and the game was in the balance. It was very close but this Irish side could hold its nerve where previous teams had folded.
Irish defended well and waited for a mistake from the Gloucester players. It came in the form of a knock-on in mid-field. In a flash the ball was in Ollie’s hands and he didn't need a map.
The atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic, I even said to the Gloucester fans near me that even if we lose I wouldn't mind as the performance was worthy of the shirt. This of course was a blatant lie but it made me feel better about what may happen.
Gloucester cranked up the intensity of the rugby to 11 out of 10 scoring a try and making the score 24-20. With 7 minutes remaining Gloucester pushed hard but got no change from the Irish defense. This spell of the game was some of the best rugby, for me, in the game. The concentration levels from both sides was impressive. To retain the ball or defend your ground Irish turned the ball over on the mark of full time and hoofed it into the cheering crowd.
All of the faithful in green were elated as it was a good performance from both teams at the Madstad with the desired outcome.pqs: qs:
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.