Normally a side who has a large majority of possession and territory wins the match. Not so at the AJ Bell Stadium, as Gloucester inaccuracy; plus inspiration from Denny Solomona, led Sale Sharks to an emphatic 57-10 victory.
Denny Solomona Lights Up the Match
Before the fans could even settle into their seats try machine Denny Solomona was dancing down the wing chasing his own kick and scored under the posts. There was a hint that he may have glanced the dead ball line before touching down, but JP Doyle chose not to review it.
The league convert has something to prove to Eddie Jones and scores like this will catch the eye. However as we have seen with Wade and Rokoduguni, Jones also values defence and Solomona didn’t have to work too hard on that front here.
Gloucester with 64% possession
8 clean breaks
21 defenders beaten
Only had to make 85 tackles
Lost 57 – 10
— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) September 29, 2017
So what went so wrong for Gloucester?
Poor Execution of Basic Skills
The first sign of trouble was the misfiring lineout. The returning Richard Hibbard was unable to find his target numerous times in the first half which meant Gloucester couldn’t capitalise on good field position. When they did get in to a good position in the 22, attacks often ended with a knock-on or turnover. These knock on’s often came from over-enthusiastic offloading.
It is clear that Johan Ackermann is introducing an exciting attacking style of rugby to the ‘Cherry and Whites’. However away from home in a must win game is not the time to be gambling excessively on the powerplay; to give away three interceptions in one match is beyond careless.
Speaking to Gloucester Rugby TV Ackermann acknowledged that his side had lost patience and didn’t adapt to the match conditions.
Inability to Build Momentum
If one moment summed up Gloucester’s evening it was early on, with the score at 7-3. Willi Heinz went on a mazy run but, from the resulting phase Ruan Ackermann knocked on with the try line open. The boss’ son has shown glimpses of his potential but it appears coming straight from a Super Rugby season has taken its toll. It might also mean he plays too open for Prem Rugby standards.
The number eight position is a particular problem at the moment for the Cherry and Whites. With Ben Morgan out with injury again, they lack a go-to ball carrier to help penetrate opposition defences and build momentum in attack. Despite the presence of David Halaifonua, the backline also lacked a physical edge.
The final nail in the coffin in this match, was a yellow card to Billy Twelvetrees early in the second half. At 19-3 down it was already an uphill task to salvage a losing bonus point. By the time he returned, the Sharks had scored three more and the match was over.
Credit to Sale Sharks
Credit must of course be given to Sale for being incredibly clinical with the limited possession they had. It was a great demonstration, and for keeping Gloucester from scoring a try until the game was long over as a contest was credit to their culture. Denny Solomona clearly starred for Sale Sharks in their win over Gloucester inaccuracy.
Congratulations to the winners, however for a side to concede 57 points whilst enjoying 64% possession must be asked serious questions. This was a record defeat for the ‘Cherry and Whites’ and unfortunately, a lot of damage for Gloucester was self-inflicted.
In a single word, it was truly ‘Bonkers’.
“Main photo credit”
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