Planet Rugby

Gloucester wear down Biarritz

11th October 2008 19:11

Share:

Mike Tindall wrapped up by Biarritz

No way through: Mike Tindall gets no change from the Biarritz defence

Gloucester kicked off their Heineken Cup assault with a 19-10 win over Biarritz on Saturday at Kingsholm, badly exposing the French side's frailties and limitations in the process.

After an ugly first 40 minutes which Gloucester shaded 9-3 on the scoreboard but won by miles on the pitch, James Simpson-Daniel's try with the final move of the half put the daylight between the teams that was utterly deserved.

Totally against the run of play, Biarritz snatched a try back after the break, and kept themselves in the game with some more steely defence, but Gloucester enjoyed an untold wealth of possession, and made it count in the end.

Biarritz were awful, but incredibly awkward. The Basque fans have been bemoaning the lack of inventiveness in attack for the past couple of seasons, and the close season change in coaching staff was supposed to have cured that. But there is little difference between this season's model and last season's, bar a couple of extra flashes on the kit and a couple of new faces. Gloucester had 27 line-outs in the end - a measure of Biarritz's ambition, and that doesn't factor in the number of kicks that didn't make it to touch.

Gloucester tried very hard, but they have a few inner demons of their own to conquer. Having flattered to dedeive for a coupe of years by playing England's most attractive rugby, they have clearly opted for a more pragmatic approach, yet the players seemed at odds with it the whole time.

The practical upshot was that at times Gloucester would run wide whe they needed pragmatism, at others they put their heads down or kicked when hands would have been the wiser option. Decision-making in Glocuester is still a problem.

It didn't make for much of a game. referee Peter Allan did his best to control the rucks, but Biarritz came solely to defend, spoil and hope things went their way. The penalty count was a faintly ludicrous 18-7, and it was a wonder Allan did not card Magnus Lund as well as Jerome Thion.

Lund's first trangression at a ruck gave Gloucester the lead after two minutes, and his second ensured Barkley landed a second to make it 6-0.

Julien Peyrelongue dropped a goal to make it 6-3 after eleven minutes, but three minutes later Barkley should have made it 9-3 when Thion went over the top.

That was Biarritz all afternoon: over the top, around the side, lying on the ball... you half-expected one of the flankers to tunnel under a ruck at times, just so he could pop up on the wrong side of the ruck and sack the scrum-half without the ball.

Gloucester got frustrated, and Olly Morgan let it boil over a little too much, tackling Damien Traille some 50cm above the turf. He was yellow-carded for his troubles, but Gloucester produced their best spell of the half in the immediate aftermath, with Simpson-Daniel and Tindall going close. Iain Balshaw also threatened. The best Biarritz had to offer was a looping pass to Takudzwa Ngwenya which flew harmlessly into touch.

When Thion strayed around the wrong side after half an hour, he left for ten minutes and Barkley made it 9-3, and finally, belatedly, and blessedly, Simpson-Daniel was put into space on the stroke of half-time for a try, which Barkley converted to make it 16-3.

Gloucester might have opened the champagne in the second half, but they were rocked three minutes into it by Biarritz's lone moment of excellence, when Romain Cabannes ghosted past Barkley's flapping arm and popped to Jean-Baptiste Gobelet on his inside for a score under the Gloucester posts.

Cue a second half that mirrored the first. Two moments stood out: a Ryan Lamb chip and chase which nearly yielded a score, and a booming run by Biarritz prop Fabien Barcella which ought to have yielded a try had the phases after it not been so suffocatingly slow.

Barkley landed a penalty near the hour mark, and Lamb landed one two minutes from the end to make the game entirely safe. That was pretty much it.

Still, Gloucester have done the job and can roll on to Cardiff next week for a pivotal match where they might find more space to run into, but might also be more severely tested in defence. It will be interesting to see if the decision-making will pick up then as well.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:

Try: Simpson-Daniel

Con: Barkley

Pens: Barkley 4

For Biarritz:

Try: Gobelet

Con: Traille

Drop goal: Peyrelongue

Yellow cards: Morgan (Gloucester, 21, dangeroius tackle), Thion (Biarritz, 30, persistent infringement)

Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 Iain Balshaw, 13 Mike Tindall (c), 12 Olly Barkley, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Alasdair Strokosch, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Marco Bortolami, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.

Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jack Forster, 18 Adam Eustace, 19 Andy Hazell, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Willie Walker, 22 Lesley Vainikolo.

Biarritz: 15 Benjamin Thiery, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Jean-Baptiste Gobelet, 10 Julien Peyrelongue, 9 Fabien Cibray, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Samiu Vahafolau, 6 Magnus Lund, 5 David Couzinet, 4 Jerome Thion (c), 3 Mosese Moala, 2 Benoit August, 1 Fabien Barcella.

Replacements: 16 Benoit Bourrust, 17 Eduard Coetzee, 18 Manuel Carizza, 19 Peio Som, 20 Laurent Tranier, 21 Andrea Masi, 22 Philippe Bidabe.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)

Touch judges: Rob Dickson (Scotland), Ron Dumma (Scotland)

Television match official: Andy Ireland (Scotland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Preview
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs UlsterMunster vs Ulster Preview
Cardiff Blues vs TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Preview
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821