Gloucester Rugby: Another vintage show from Simpson-Daniel
Gloucester Rugby 29 London Wasps 22
HARD to believe James Simpson-Daniel is no longer in his twenties.
Forget the hairline a moment, just marvel at the stunning try he produced out of next to nothing on Saturday.
One of two Gloucester scores that proved decisive in a gritty and breathless victory, good old Sinbad poured another drop from his bottomless vintage bottle.
Sunday and Monday evenings £12.00 per head for an all inclusive meal with Indian and Thai cuisine (normal price £14.50).
Bring this voucher to the restaurant complete with your name and email address on it.
Terms: Expires 31st July
Contact: 01452 223782
Valid until: Wednesday, July 31 2013
Harder to believe still, for those of a Cherry and Whites persuasion, is England's consistent myopia.
Once again the men in white find themselves short of a blindside wing.
Maybe they should recalibrate their search a little lower than 6ft 4in.
Hardest to believe of all ultimately, is that at the ripe young age of 30, it now falls to Simpson-Daniel to eschew man of the match awards and heap praise on talented youngsters.
It hardly feels like five minutes since a ruddy-cheeked schoolboy who could not fill his shirt outfoxed the menacing Jonah Lomu. Alarmingly, a decade has passed in between.
And remember Simpson-Daniel toying with Lawrence Dallaglio en route to James Bailey's field-length score against Wasps – that was six years hence.
For many players, already such deeds would be consigned to history.
But longevity is Simpson-Daniel's watchword: if he is sometimes labelled old before his time, it's just because he was so good so young.
"I remember being termed a veteran once – I was 28!" he joked.
"Now I'm 30 I don't mind it so much, but I feel great, I'm really enjoying this season, and it was great to get some ball on Saturday."
'Some ball' is the typically humble way of describing a score worthy of any contest, the world over.
Irrepressible 23-year-old menace Tom Savage straightened the Wasps backline in the 13 channel, and gave Simpson-Daniel at best half a yard.
But when has the Stockton-born guile-merchant ever needed more than that? Powering in off left foot and left flank, ever-popular Sinbad skinned three defenders in one swoop.
Stepping the same way again, he left another for dead, and produced a swan-dive flourish for the finish.
Add to that a sneak-thief score from Tongan beefcake Sione Kalamafoni, and Gloucester had enough for victory – but there was no need for them to go and prove it.
No sooner had Kalamafoni exposed a poorly-defended ruck fringe to blast home Gloucester's second score, than Elliot Daly was in at the other end.
The home side bungled the restart, Wasps snaffled possession – and England Under-20s graduate Daly stood up Henry Trinder and left him clutching fresh air on the Kingsholm turf.
No one else got anywhere near the talented Wasps centre, and from 20-3 and cruising, Gloucester had to watch Wasps puff out chests and decry 'game on'.
Stephen Jones' early penalty – and a long-range potshot from Tommy Bell on the half-time stroke – meant Gloucester turned out only 20-13 to the good.
They should have been out of sight.
Gloucester burst into life at the game's opening, Freddie Burns crossing the whitewash but held up in the tackle.
A loose pass surrendered impetus and field position from the five-metre scrum, so in two minutes as many chances went begging.
Trinder plucked a restart from the sky, careered down the left flank and tried in vain to wrestle position to offload a pass.
Had he been able to find the onrushing Billy Twelvetrees, Gloucester would have had their first try.
At least Burns had his kicking boots, landing two from three penalty attempts in the first half, and converting both tries too.
Burns trumped Jones' two penalties with three in a scrappy third quarter, and produced two fine line kicks in the battle to peg Wasps into their own territory.
Wasps had increasing influence, though, and nearly profited from indecision among the officials.
Increased Television Match Official powers for live-screened Premiership matches mean referees can ask for a moment of foul play, or any incident to be reviewed in the build-up to a try-scoring chance or a try itself.
Twelvetrees and Joe Simpson fell in a heap chasing Christian Wade's chip five yards from the Gloucester tryline.
Wasps eventually recovered but then knocked on. Scrum Gloucester then? Well, not straightaway.
In fact several minutes elapsed as referee Martin Fox asked his TMO to double-check.
The tension mounted as Kingsholm's big screens showed Fox with his finger in his ear trying to make sense of the voice in his headset.
The result: a scrum to Gloucester. At the start of the season the Premiership big wigs said extra powers would not slow down the game. Ahem.
Wasps captain Marco Wentzel was sin-binned next, for playing the ball on the wrong side at a ruck.
The visitors had only one answer to Gloucester's driving maul: collapse it illegally.
But Gloucester could not convert good field position into points, the entire backline offside from a Burns grubber kick.
Bell and Burns traded missed penalties, and then old Gloucester boy Nicky Robinson wrestled control in a dangerous cameo.
Drifting to the line then darting back in the opposite direction, this was the Welsh tactician at his front-foot finest.
Robinson's penalty cut the home lead to seven with four minutes to play.
Gloucester could not escape their half, but at least defended their line.
And when Martyn Thomas raced out, snagged Daly and then mucked in at a breakdown, Wasps knocked on.
A victory to give Gloucester's season context, if harnessed.
In three months, or even six, let's hope Nigel Davies and Co can cite this gritty win as the catalyst for top-six stability.
WASPS: T Bell, T Varndell, E Daly, A Masi, C Wade, S Jones (N Robinson 69), J Simpson, T Payne (S McIntyre 69), T Rhys Thomas (T Lindsay 58), Z Taulafo (F Staibano 60), T Palmer, M Wentzel (capt), J Haskell, J Poff (B Vunipola 58), A Johnson. Unused: J Cannon, C Davies, J Wallace.
REFEREE: Martin Fox