Gloucester Rugby suffered a 26-24 defeat away at Sale Sharks on Saturday, but having been on the verge of being blown away midway in the second half, two league points on the road felt like a decent return for the traveling side.
The Cherry and Whites scored a brace of tries from their maul, both finished by hooker Santiago Socino, while replacement scrum half Charlie Chapman intercepted a pass from Faf de Klerk 5m from his own tryline to race in 95m and score.
A fourth try from replacement center Louis Hillman-Cooper on his debut ensure an attacking bonus point for the visitors to the AJ Bell and kept them in the game with Sale having touched down through de Klerk, AJ MacGinty, JP Du Preez and Jean-Luc DuPreez.
South West rugby writer John Evely takes a closer look at the individual performances from the Cherry and Whites at the AJ Bell….
15. Kyle Moyle – 5
Beaten in the air repeatedly by Aaron Reed who chased Faf de Klerk’s high box kicks all well and rose into the air superbly.
A couple of rare flashes of his attacking abilities.
14. Santiago Carreras – 5
Credited with an unwanted six missed tackles with very few opportunities to attack.
13. Tom Seabrook – 5
Having starred last week with a stunning solo try and wonderful offload to set up a try for Louis Rees-Zammit, he was unable to impact the match as an attacker at the AJ Bell, losing collisions against this physical Sale side.
12. Billy Twelvetrees – 5
Gloucester’s center partnership was disappointingly blunt in attack as the two men combined were credited with making seven meters in attack.
11. Ollie Thorley – 5
The winger was unable to make an impact on the game as his centers failed to bring him into the match in promising positions with 13m from six carries.
10. George Barton – 6
The fly-half kicked well from the tee and showed moments of his passing ability with a lovely zipped pass in the first half creating a break down the wing.
He was targeted in defense on a couple of occasions by Sale’s heavy-duty runners and a couple of chip kicks were more hit and hope than by grand design.
9. Ben Meehan – 5
The scrum-half was outshone by opposite number Faf de Klerk – which is no crime as the South African World Cup winner is generally considered one of the best of the game.
But Meehan was also then outshone by teammate Charlie Chapman who scored a stunning 95m try and brought some zip.
Selected to provide some stability and experience inside young Barton but apart from that offered very little.
1. Harry Elrington – 7
The loosehead prop played a full 80 minutes and probably knew that was going to be the case before the match started with just inexperienced Bryan O’Connor on the bench; despite that he was still chasing kicks and counter-rucking to make a real nuisance of himself.
Unfortunately slipped to concede a penalty in the last minute of the match to see Gloucester lose a final chance at going for the win.
2. Santiago Socino – 7
The hooker scored a brace of tries with both coming from catch and drive efforts from the pack and was his club’s joint top tackler with 13
A real turnover threat at the breakdown as well.
3. Fraser Balmain – 6
The scrum was a real battleground all game but an even one with Balmain excelling again against a huge Sale pack.
4. Freddie Clarke – 6
A busy force in the lineout with 11 takes but he struggled in comparison to Sale’s giant pair of South African locks who used their size and power to go effect, breaking the line and scoring tries.
Still, a vital cog in the Cherry and Whites’ might maul.
5. Matias Alemanno – 6
The big Argentina international lock got run over to concede
6. Jordy Reid – 6
The Australian toileted hard without much reward as Sale’s big pack dominated proceedings.
Joint top tackler with 13 though.
7. Lewis Ludlow – 6
Back from an England training camp that ruled him out last weekend, the skipper conceded a couple of costly penalties with his side really under pressure in the closing stages as Gloucester lost their composure at times.
8. Ruan Ackermann – 7
The number eight made a couple of blockbuster carries through the heart of Sale, with Sharks hanging off him but unable to stop his progress.
The only man in the side to repeatedly get go forward while carrying.
16. Henry Walker – N/A
17. Jamal Ford-Robinson – 5
18. Bryan O’Connor – N/A
19. Andrew Davidson – 5
20. Jack Clement – 7
21. Charlie Chapman – 7
22. Louis Hillman Cooper – 7
23. Alex Morgan – N/A
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