Keith Richardson Column: Finally Gloucester tick the box
AT last a box-kick that does not contravene the trades description act.
The Premiership has virtually destroyed this useful kick as most teams simply slam the ball down the blindside with a long blast that can never be contested. It looks like a cop-out to buy a few seconds.
The true form of the kick has a purpose when performed correctly.
The clue is in the name – the kick must be put into the 'box' – the area where the blindside winger can contest the high ball.
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The wideman must go all-out for the ball, because a second safety-net chaser, either centre or openside flanker, ought to lurk for any deflection – what the roundball exponents would call the 'second ball'.
Should the defender field the Garryowen he ought to be easy meat for the chasers.
Of course, the deep blast may be useful if the defence fails to cover the space, but that is not so common.
Too often we see a mammoth hoof that falls between the two options, and simply allows the opposition to break.
Last week against London Irish, Gloucester finally exploited this area that is so often ripe for the taking.
Several astute kicks from Jimmy Cowan paid dividend and at least announcing it as having it in your locker keeps defenders guessing.
Irish for their part were woeful, and will need all the luck in the world in battling out of the mire come the new year.
The Exiles lurked offside at almost every breakdown, but even that advantage failed to help.
Gloucester's superior fitness and aggression worked wonders – and will be required again when Exeter arrive at Kingsholm tomorrow.
Such concentration, discipline and poise will all be required against the Chiefs, who will compete from first to last.
They have a tough pack that gets in opponents' faces and making headway against them is not a quick job.
It will require patience, graft and a sensibly pragmatic kicking strategy to turn them and get them trundling backwards.
This is one of those games that does not have to be pretty.
Anyway, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and any win for Gloucester will receive all the accolades from a bunch of supporters who understand the dark world of tough rugby.