Keith Richardson Report: Burns shows how old way can be best
TWO raking line-kicks from Freddie Burns took Kingsholm back in time last weekend.
Burns' accurate, defence-turning boot transported the Gloucester stadium and all in it back to the Terry Hopson era.
Masterful fly-half Hopson racked up 315 games between 1959 and 1971, was famed for his tactical kicking, and formed a formidable half-back partnership with another pivotal figure, Mickey Booth.
Gloucester's modern-era outside-half Burns produced two old-fashioned touch-finders to either corner in last week's 29-22 Wasps victory.
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And in an age where endless high hoists and blitz kick-chases are the trend, it was hugely pleasing to witness the return of a classic – but mightily effective – tactic.
Hopson could float the ball into either corner almost without seeming to kick it.
Not only did it gain valuable yards, but it was always a psychologically inspirational tool for the forwards.
One minute the gnarled men of the pack would be chipping away in their own 22 – the next staring down a lineout in the opposition danger-area.
Weary legs are soon forgotten when you are massaged into enemy territory!
Sione Kalamafoni has the look of a man difficult to subdue on the hoof, but his try last week owed more to speed of thought than any kind of unrefined bludgeon.
It is an encouraging sign from a man who certainly has the beef and the attitude.
Billy Twelvetrees is another to offer fairly old-school attributes.
The inside centre can stand up and play in the often-confusing confines of the narrow midfield arena.
With decent pace, vitally, he plays with his head up – not automatically driving headlong into contact, but rather seeking the most threatening option.
Throw in a willingness to get stuck into the odd skirmish around the fringes, and he is already confirming his status as a more-than useful acquisition.
At times against Wasps Gloucester failed to employ their forward runners from the required depth when trying to send blunt instruments down the wider channels.
This is at slight odds with earlier evidence in that respect, and Gloucester can easily tidy it up.
Wasps at times were more penetrative in that respect, so the Cherry and Whites will have looked at taking a leaf from that particular tome.
And so to London Welsh.
Why not just beat them up, strangle them with aggressive defence, whack the long ball behind their wingers, hit the blindside, drive the big ball-carriers from depth and…win. Simple really.