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Cherry Stones: Bath v Gloucester

Priestland: impeccable

By P G Tips
October 24 2017

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Ploughboy, Thief. “ The daydream list of possible occupations in AA Milne’s poem “Cherry Stones” seems to mirror Gloucester Rugby’s search for an identity in recent years. The club that twice topped the Premiership Table a decade ago have since struggled to replicate that form and to settle on a distinctive playing style. Their performances have been inconsistent this season so far, so what can we expect from them on Sunday?

Once known for a fearsome pack and kicking halfbacks, Gloucester have in recent years been blessed with stellar talents behind the scrum. Under DOR David Humphries they have tried to play a more expansive game, not always successfully. It was no surprise therefore when the Cherry and Whites looked to South Africa for a new coach, many in The Shed anticipating a return to the days of forward steel. What they have got though is Johann Ackermann, no stranger to the tenets of forward play, but more noted for transforming the Lions into South Africa’s most exciting franchise with ball in hand.


Effecting the same transformation with Gloucester will probably take some time as this season’s mixed results suggest. In the Premiership they lie 8th having won their 3 home games and lost all 3 away, including a thumping at Sale Sharks. Both form and pride have been restored since that embarrassing reverse but little can be read into their trouncing of Agen in the Challenge Cup last weekend. Away form may have eluded the Cherry and Whites so far but their threat in a derby should never be taken lightly. Sunday’s match has the added spice of Mohammed Altrad’s accusation that Bruce Craig scuppered his application to buy the club and the resulting innuendo about salary cap abuses from some Gloucester supporters.


On the field the threat up front is likely to be led by Hibbard, Slater and Savage, all no nonsense forwards reminiscent of the glory days of troglodyte grunt. These could be joined by Morgan and Hohneck (whose name sounds like cockney rhyming slang for his upper body physique) but the villainous Moriarty may still be missing through injury. Behind them Gloucester boast the speed of the ever reliable Henry Purdy, the distribution of Twelvetrees and the direction of either Owen Williams or Billy Burns. Their most potent attackers though are likely to be Henry Trinder, Jason Woodward and scrum half Willi Heinz. The prospect of a Burns brothers’ confrontation at 10 will have to wait: Freddie is suspended for this match and Billy may have to give way to Williams, newly named in Wales’ squad.


Since Newcastle caught them napping on 23 September Bath have tightened both their defence and control of games. The two European matches in particular were won by a simple game plan, territorial control and stifling defence. All three will be needed against the men from the Severn. Expect the back five of the pack and the halfbacks to set the tone. Ewels and Charteris should bring secure lineout ball, Faletau, Garvey and Underhill the combination of tackle, turnover and trucking it up. Behind them the recent form of Fotuali’i and Priestland has been very impressive, the latter’s game management against Scarlets was near impeccable.


Bath will be cheered by better news on the injury front: Garvey, Lahiff, Cook and Tapuai are all in the mix for selection this weekend. A dry, mild day is expected so Bath’s backs should get a chance or two, after the frustrating conditions of last Friday. Against Scarlets Bath edged possession, dominated territory and forced their opponents to give away twice as many penalties –all signs of the progress the fans have been crying out for. They also made significantly more metres with ball in hand. With finishers like Rokodoguni, Watson and Banahan all available, supporters will be hoping for tries. A win is the prime objective, but any flourish in a derby puts the icing on the cake.


“Cherry Stones” is one of an anthology of winsome verses called “Now We Are Six” about a little boy – sometimes lost - trying to make sense of the world. Bath will care nothing for the Cherry and Whites sensibilities and want to send them home winless- the more like little boys the better.

Possible Teams:


Obano, Dunn, Perenise, Ewels Charteris, Garvey, (Capt.), Underhill, Faletau. Fotuali’i, Priestland , Banahan, Clark, Joseph, Rokodoguni. Watson.

Replacements: Catt, Charles, Lahiff, Stooke, Mercer. Cook Lewis, Tapuai


Ruskin, Hibbard, Afoa, Savage, Slater, Ludlow, Rowan, Morgan. Heinz, Williams. Purdy, Twelvetrees, Trinder, Halaifonua. Woodward

Replacements: Hanson, Hohneck, Denman, Thrush, Clark. Vellacott, Burns, Braley


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Cherry Stones: Bath v Gloucester
24/10/2017 17:22
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:11:01:12:01:15 by CoochieCoo.

CoochieCoo (IP Logged)

Re: Cherry Stones: Bath v Gloucester
25/10/2017 07:05
Thanks PG. The officials for the game are

Bath vs Gloucester
@ Recreation Ground
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Paul Dix
TMO: Stuart Terheege

Clarkey3k (IP Logged)

Re: Cherry Stones: Bath v Gloucester
27/10/2017 18:50
Thanks PG, great analysis & summary as always. Glaws away form has been pants this season & I don't expect that to change this week. I do want Ant Watson to explode into this game. He has been eclipsed by Roko's & JJ's performances this season and it's time he wrote the match headlines imho.

Like this bloke - I know nothing...

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:10:30:12:05:09 by Clarkey3k.

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