What the Butler saw: Gloucester legend Peter Butler has his say
IT'S TIME TO FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES AS NORTHAMPTON COME TO TOWN
ENOUGH has been said about Nick Wood's 70-second contribution on Sunday, so I shall leave it at that.
Following the sending off, I saw enough to feel encouraged, but the facts are Gloucester are two defeats from two games and face the challenge of a visit from Northampton this weekend.
It's been a tough old start to the season for Nigel Davies. He must feel like he's been hit by a bus, but you can't pin the blame on the coaches.
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Sale was a poor performance, Saracens was a complete non-event as a contest and now Northampton are coming to town after two victories, including a very impressive win at Harlequins on Saturday.
I don't mean to harp on about the front five, but when you compare the two teams on Sunday, Gloucester's lack of quality is brought into focus.
There are players there who without doubt will develop into first-class Premiership operators, but they aren't yet.
What Davies must decide is how long these guys are given before he must look elsewhere.
I'm all for bringing players through, but you have to accept that not every academy product is going to make it, and they can only be given so many chances.
After doing well to hold Saracens for the opening 40 minutes, the hosts were able to bring on Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits and James Johnston in the second half.
What it must have felt like to see such quality trotting on after 40 minutes I don't know. I'm sure the Gloucester boys were about ready to commit Harakiri by this point, but I never saw anyone stop trying.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. I saw some fine performances with only scraps of possession from the Gloucester backs.
Freddie Burns was much better than last week, despite being on the back foot. He showed how much his game is maturing with some fine kicking out of hand, although there were a couple of loose ones in desperation late on.
I want to see Jimmy Cowan's name down to start next week.
Tavis Knoyle did nothing wrong, and dropping him would be harsh, but the ex-All Black has a presence which was sorely missed last year. He is an on-field leader.
Outside Burns, Billy Twelvetrees was ready to take on all comers, and Henry Trinder looked dangerous once more. The backs really are the least of Gloucester's worries.
Now they just need some quality ball.
SAINTS AND BATH LOOK IMPRESSIVE
WITH two games down you can’t deduce a great deal, but already you can see the likes of Northampton and Bath mean business this season.
The Saints won a tight encounter at the Stoop on Friday, when Nick Evans’ kicking radar was on the blink, while Bath put one over on old rivals Leicester at the Rec.
Recruitment-wise, Northampton led the way in the close season, with George North perhaps the biggest name to join the Premiership.
It gives Jim Mallinder a strong squad to pick from and makes them a formidable opponent for the Cherry and Whites this weekend.
With Bath it had to click at some point. They hadn’t seen the results to justify the money being spent over the last few seasons, but these things always take time.
We saw with Toulon that money doesn’t buy everything. It took the French outfit a few seasons before they started firing, so maybe we will see the same with Bath. Although I hope not.
WOOD'S DISMISSAL WAS TOUGH ON QERA
SPARE a thought for Akapusi Qera, who was the man sacrificed to allow another front row on to the field on Sunday against Saracens.
After a week building up to a big away game, to be withdrawn after two minutes must have been a desperate anticlimax for the big Fijian.
He would have been hoping for a big game after losing his place to new man Matt Kvesic at the start of the season, so I’m sure Nick Wood was extremely apologetic on Sunday night.
As far as Kvesic is concerned, I’ve seen enough to be confident he will have a big impact if and when it all comes together this season. He’s come into a new team that hasn’t started well, but has been involved enough in the play to show what’s to come from a guy of his quality.
Nigel Davies now needs to find the right balance in his back row. Much has been made about Kvesic being an out and out openside, who will need ball carriers around him, but he looks big enough to do a bit of that work himself.
On paper, the back row looks an area of strength. When they’ve gelled and start living up to their potential, they should do some serious damage.