Sunday 29 September 2013 – 3.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Aviva Premiership #4
Today’s defeat yielded a bonus point for the Falcons, but other results mean we drop to eleventh in the table, four points ahead of next week’s opponents Worcester.
Dean Richards will surely have targeted today’s home clash with Gloucester as a must-win, making the visit to Sixways on Saturday doubly important now. A win would take the gap over the Warriors to up to nine points, but defeat makes the relegation battle a little hotter.
Obviously we got off to the best possible start this afternoon with Tom Catterick scoring our first try of the season, and a 10-0 lead was just reward for the Falcons whose forwards had their Gloucester counterparts on toast for most of the game.
The away backs always looked dangerous though, particularly the lightning wingers James Simpson-Daniel and Jonny May, and it is probably no surprise that we were outscored on tries. The forwards were given responsibility at the death for getting a potentially-winning try but were unable to.
The referee will take some stick for ending the game with a decision of held-up, but fans closer than me agreed with the decision and you have to question why several Falcons players got excited and piled in when being patient and calm had given us several attacking phases. Keep going and eventually the try will come – there’s no rush.
Another bad decision that will haunt the Falcons was to give Tom Catterick a shot at goal with ten minutes left rather than go for the corner, at three points down. It was a heck of a long way out and we were starting to get back into the game after two dodgy middle quarters, so why not go for the corner? Mind, if he’d scored and we had gone on to get a draw or even a win, nobody would have complained.
Catterick had a solid, if not particularly spectacular, game I thought. Adam Powell was given man of the match but I thought Alex Tait had another blinder at full-back, and James Fitzpatrick did little wrong. Mike Blair is showing signs of the speed and cleverness we have so long lacked at scrum-half.
Dominic Barrow and Ally Hogg had huge games up front and Oliver Tomaszczyk has definitely become more mobile over the summer. Franck Montanella is a top scrummager and Matt Thompson really put his opposite number under pressure in the tight.
Ultimately, our inability to get out of our 22 with some of the best backs around bearing down, and a lack of execution in the final quarter, let us down I believe – lets not forget that Freddie Burns missed a few kicks at goal so Gloucester could have scored more.
Overall, it wasn’t a disastrous result, and we have one more point from our first four games than we gained from the equivalent fixtures in 2011/12. We are improving with every game, however the key is to turn performances into victories, starting at Sixways on Saturday.
As I contemplate a two-hour drive home, and whether or not I have enough fuel to get to the (relatively) cheap garage near Carlisle I saw on the way over yesterday, I’m not hugely downheartened.
Could really do with a beer though!
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)