Saturday 22 March 2014 – 3.00pm
Aviva Premiership #17
All the pre-match excitement might have been about Zach Kibirige, but in the end if was another flying Falcon who was the talk of the Shed after yesterday’s match.
An hour in, the score read Gloucester 37-7 Newcastle – cue the introduction of Joel Hodgson. The Falcons then scored four tries and at least one home supporter feared that had the match gone on for ten more minutes, we may well have won.
Of course Joel didn’t get us four tries on his own, it was a team effort. George McGuigan and Scott Wilson galvanised the pack and must surely be in contention for Premiership starts sooner rather than later.
But Hodgson provided a spark, a turn of pace, a bit of unpredictability that the midfield hadn’t had previously. He broke tackles, made metres and set people away like hadn’t happened in the first hour and Gloucester just couldn’t handle him. If there is any chance that all that Joel will be at KP, then surely he MUST be in the starting line-up against Worcester.
Deano has put his faith in Godman but it has not worked. While a mark of greatness is perseverance, the truly great know when to change too.
Zach deserves a mention for a lively performance and carving a couple of try-scoring chances before he was injured in an innocuous first-half tackle. His tackling wasn’t perfect (nobody’s is) but when Zach got the ball, he looked dangerous and as I say was close to scoring a first Premiership try. Injury permitting, I think we’ll be seeing him in the starting XV again before too long.
The game itself wasn’t great in the middle 40 minutes, from a Newcastle point of view when Gloucester were pulling away. Then the introduction of Hodgson, Wilson and McGuigan coincided with Gloucester seemingly taking their foot off the gas. Actually, they practically went into neutral.
You perhaps can’t blame them for that. Realistically, the Cherry ‘n’ Whites aren’t going to get into the Heineken Cup, or the Champions-and-lots-of-other-teams-too Cup, through the league and will not go down, so once their bonus point was secure, thoughts may have turned to next month’s Amlin quarter-final at Wasps.
But our team still needed a lot of courage to keep going at thirty points down, and get four tries in those last twenty minutes. Maybe our replacements wanted to prove they could do better than those they came on for. Maybe Deano challenged them to do better. Whatever, they stepped up, and it made my five-and-three-quarter-hour train and bus journey back to the Village of the Damned last night a little less daunting.
So now we have a twelve-point lead over Worcester heading into next week. The most optimistic Warrior and defeatist Falcon will struggle to argue successfully that after 400 days without a league win, Worcester will suddenly turn it on and gain thirteen more points than we do in the final five games of the season.
But I want us to absolutely smash Worcester, send them crashing into the Championship with the Blaydon Races and at least forty points ringing in their ears.
I want us to make a statement, that we deserve to stay ourselves. We should go out there and play like we desperately need to win. Why? Because, with it being season tickets and signings season, we do.
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)