Tigers were blown away by a rampant Gloucester on Saturday as the Cherry ‘n’ Whites powered to a 30-9 first half lead, scoring three tries in the process. Tigers at least maintained pride in the second half conceding only a penalty and gaining a last play consolation score via David Mele.
With Seremaia Bai ruled out again with a calf injury Freddie Burns was forced back into the line up and he had a torrid first half, culminating in his clearance kick being charged down for a try on 20 minutes. Burns responded with some good tactical kicking in the second half but the damage was done and the fly half could do with someone else, anyone else, returning to fitness to allow him to lick his wounds in private and regain some form on the training paddock.
Part of the problem is that having both Williams and Burns as play makers is creating confusion in the team; the players don’t seem to know who is in charge and who to run lines off. With Ben Youngs preferring to be the creative force as well this leads to a horribly unbalanced and disjointed attack. Too many cooks spoiling the broth.
The defence has not been acceptable. For the second try neither Goneva nor Scully forced Sharples into a pass (or tackled him) as he just eased in for a try from 30m out. For the third the BT Sport team neatly clipped up an example of Tigers defence just not putting the effort in to reorganise promptly. Matt Smith could have tried to pressure Hook’s pass more but he was helpless to stop a correctly executed 3 on 2 as Gloucester put May into the corner.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the defence has been the leaking of offside penalties. Again this is pure laziness. We do not operate a rush defence, we are not timing a charge wrong, we are just not getting back on side after rucks. It is simply unforgivable.
People have blamed the injuries but they are no excuse for a team looking clueless in attack, not limited and well drilled just as if without plan or instruction, or for a lack of effort. Everyone should be able to execute a game plan and put some effort in. We’re lacking some great players, granted, but this team was good enough to win that match and beat London Irish the week before; that has to be faced up to by the coaches, the fans and the players themselves.
Tigers now lie 10th in the table, a loss against Harlequins would make this the 2nd longest losing run in our league history. Only the 5 defeats suffered during the 2003 Rugby World Cup would “beat” it. That is not a record this team would like to have and there is only one way to do it. Roll on Harlequins.