Keith Richardson column: Cherry and Whites warming to the South Pacific theme
THE Pacific influence is starting to have a very positive effect on Gloucester.
The trio of Akapusi Qera, Sione Kalamafoni and Lua Lokotui strike fear because they know only one way to go – and they will not, I suggest, get shot in the back.
Gloucester's victory at Northampton took a special kind of attitude, summed up by their bludgeoning Islanders.
Too often we have been left wanting when it came to the hard yards of Soane Tonga'uiha.
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He has enjoyed some sort of influence over the Kingsholm men in quite a few encounters, but he was smashed backwards along with their other talismanic forward, Samu Manoa.
But this time the South Seas were awash with Cherry and White.
Even the best teams can catch a cold when the opposition keep coming at them.
In smashing the ball-carrier backwards, Qera inflicts initial pain and frustration on one man – but also problems for the opposition team-mates.
Supporting runners then struggle to enter the forming tackle area legally, as they have to track backwards to come through the gate.
That slows their arrival to the contact area, and allows Qera's scavenging pals a chance of a turnover.
Laud the man who latches on to the ball over the tackle then, but never forget the thundering hit that bought that vital split-second opening.
Gloucester made Saints look poor – there is no greater compliment.
And when the South West's answer to Usain Bolt, Jonny May, is on hand, any situation can become a try-scoring chance.
What price Gloucester, Sale, England and Scotland all to win at the weekend – and France to lose – on the same weekend Saracens came up short to boot?
Oh for the gift of hindsight, or at least the guts to register a hugely speculative wager.
It was an odd weekend's rugby in many respects, but one to reaffirm the maxim that attitude and aggression can sometimes win the day.
No wonder modern squads use their resources to the full – Dublin resembled a battlefield, not a rugby pitch.
Lord knows what damage Ireland and England's troops would have inflicted on a dry day over a hard track.
Unflinching England were hugely impressive.
Ireland often ensure the sum trumps their parts, but Stuart Lancaster's side turned that method against them.
As for Gloucester, there is still a long way to go, but the Northampton performance had even this cynic thinking that a top-four place may just be possible.
Nigel Davies said he had something up his sleeve for the Northampton match – and I can exclusively reveal his secret weapon.
Forget a new chapter in the play book, it was the coachload of former players that trucked up to Franklin's Gardens that did the trick.
Teams across the land be warned. Don't ever mess with former Glaws players – even if they are brandishing a free bus pass!