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Will James: Sione Kalamafomi is a big man and he's willing to get around the park

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 13, 2012

Sione Kalamafoni produced his finest Cherry and Whites performance yet in Thursday’s 11-6 Mont de Marsan victory

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RAMPAGING Sione Kalamafoni is just the tip of a brutal ball-carrying iceberg at Gloucester, believes Will James.

Loose forward Kalamafoni produced his finest Cherry and Whites performance yet in Thursday's 11-6 Mont de Marsan victory.

The 24-year-old summer signing from Nottingham was a constant scourge with ball in hand, blasting craters all over the Stade Guy Boniface field.

Lock James and his second-row partner Pete Buxton got in on the act too, causing all sorts of problems for the Stade Montois defence.

And James believes Kalamafoni's showing is just the start of a period of destructive forward play ahead for Nigel Davies' new-look side.

Ben Morgan's chief weapon is strike running, while Akapusi Qera in vintage free-flowing form is another front-foot marauder.

James said: "Sione carries really well for us, he's a big man, he's athletic and he's willing to get around the park and just keep hitting the ball up.

"He's a great asset for us, and there's a growing group of players who can do the same thing.

"There's a lot of guys willing to put their hands up for that kind of work, though, and that makes us a real threat.

"It's obviously something we've worked on as a weapon, and we definitely want to keep improving on that front."

Gloucester's front-row boasted an average age of 21 in Thursday's Amlin Challenge Cup victory.

Koree Britton made his full debut, while Yann Thomas grabbed only his fourth Gloucester start.

Shaun Knight has been in the first-team mix all term, completing the starting trio in Mont de Marsan.

And James hailed all three men for their tenacity and composure.

"I thought our scrum was excellent out there, and hats off to the three young front-rowers, who all showed up fantastically," he said.

"It was great to see Yann and Koree get starts, and Shaun's been there and thereabouts for a while now.

"It really energised them, and they can be proud of their effort.

"It was a good physical battle, it was a very tough game, the pitch was fairly soft and they had an aggressive press so it made it difficult to get around them.

"But I thought the boys performed really well.

"There were a few changes from last week, but everyone stood up well again, and that just indicates our growing strength in depth.

"That was a great opportunity for a lot of people, and I think they grasped it with both hands."

Pleased with Gloucester's mental agility in closing out the contest after Andy Hazell's red card and Matt Cox's sin-binning, James said the Cherry and Whites are already gearing up to host Bordeaux.

Davies' men entertain the Frenchmen at Kingsholm on Thursday night (kick-off 7.45pm), and James expects another testing encounter.

He added: "Our extra fitness was maybe important at the end on Thursday, but it's also how you handle things mentally, and how you react to what happens and having a shrewd approach.

"You can be fit as a fiddle, but if you don't manage the situation through clever play then you won't come out on top.

"We're very happy with the win, but now we build into the Bordeaux game straight away, and we know we'll have another tough game on our hands."

■ Andy Hazell admitted he wished he could replay Thursday's Mont de Marsan clash – and wipe out his first-ever red card.

The Gloucester flanker lost his temper under the most extreme provocation of all in rugby, alleged eye gouging.

Hazell unleashed a flurry of punches on Stade Montois prop Sebastien Ormaechea, leading to his dismissal on 55 minutes.

Kingsholm bosses have made official complaints to citing commissioners over what they considered three deliberate and prolonged attempts to damage Hazell's eyes.

The Cherry and Whites submitted photographic evidence of the damage.

Hazell tweeted: "Never had a red in 12 years, extremely embarrassed by my actions. It was the third time someone tried to severely injury me and I reacted.

"In a way I wish I could take back. But when you are in that situation you don't know how you would react.

"Also well done to the boys on grinding out a good away win, and thanks to the travelling supporters."

Hazell is the ultra professional, and well-known for his calmness under pressure.

But eye gouging carries the real risk of blindness, and there is no panic quite like the feeling of someone squeezing a thumb deep into your eyeball.

So if ERC find any wrongdoing at all, several Mont de Marsan players could find themselves facing length bans.

Hazell will probably face a hefty censure, but both Gloucester and the flanker will accept whatever is imposed.

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  • RubenHall  |  October 13 2012, 8:40PM

    "....while Akapusi Qera in vintage free-flowing form is another front-foot marauder."" We need to see more of Q, the best openside at Gloucester, playing and warming the bench.

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