Saturday 23 November 2013 – 3.15pm
Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton
Aviva Premiership #8
I’d say that from a personal point of view, yesterday was far more successful than last Saturday. Got me hair cut finally, got me chips post-match, and didn’t have to leg it for the train. Still didn’t get home until midnight but you can’t have everything.
The Falcons also played better at Franklin’s Gardens than at Kingsholm. Although we conceded a similar amount of points and didn’t score a single one, there seemed to be more fight yesterday.
The opposition were just too good. It’s not the first time I’ve said that this season and I doubt it will be the last.
Northampton put us under major pressure in the scrum and all but completely nullified our backs. The only real try-scoring chances I can remember came from a break by Mike Blair and a run by Noah Cato in the first half. If Blair had only just kept running rather than looking for support and losing half a year, he might have scored and who knows what might have happened then?
The Saints’ tries were both controversial. The first looked like it came from a forward pass but no replay was shown and the referee only wanted the TMO to check the grounding.
The second, however many times it was checked by the TMO (a lot) to me just did not look like it was grounded properly. Some watching on TV, and therefore nearer the screen, say otherwise, so myself and other away fans might be wrong.
Still, it was the right result in the end.
I thought Alex Tait was our best player – he is really in form and along with Cato tackled well and probably looked most likely to spark something at the other end.
There was little from fly-half and while Joel Hodgson might not necessarily be the answer, I am very far from convinced that Phil Godman is. Mind, I thought Blair had a difficult game so that wouldn’t have helped.
Richard Mayhew was the pick of the forwards for me, and many others, tackling like a lion, but Ally Hogg’s usual attacking power was seldom seen.
In another world, today may perhaps have been better, but it may also have been far worse. We seemed to keep our heads up better than at Gloucester, but had little possession and no creativity when we did have it.
Were we disgraced? No. Was it the best performance of the season? Not by a long way.
I would suggest that something really needs to changer in attack. Having a very good defence is great but when you defend for 70 minutes against a team as good as Northampton, more than nine times out of ten they will eventually find a way through. Then the game is lost.
Still, the foundations of commitment and organisation are there, so it’s not all bad.
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