Davies challenges Gloucester Rugby to set next season's standard at Exeter
THE BATTLE for next season’s play-offs starts tomorrow, believes Nigel Davies.
Gloucester close their season at Exeter Chiefs (kick-off 2.30pm) looking directly onto next term rather than the summer break.
And boss Davies has challenged his players to set the standard for next season at Sandy Park – where they will once again fight to reach the Premiership play-offs.
Heineken Cup qualification for next term is a positive step forward after the debacle that was the end of Bryan Redpath’s tenure last season.
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But rugby director Davies is still unsatisfied with this term’s yield, and has told his squad the process of improving for next year starts now.
Tom Savage captains the side once again, with Jim Hamilton unable to make one last bow in Cherry and White before joining Montpellier in the summer.
Henry Trinder partners Billy Twelvetrees in the centre, with Mike Tindall on the bench, and hooker Darren Dawidiuk takes a seat on the bench after completing his six-week ban.
Exeter skipper Richard Baxter plays his last game before retirement,
Gearing up for a fierce encounter, Davies explained: “This is a chance for us to set the tone for next season, and it’s one we’ve got to take.
“Consistency in performance is everything – and now we’ve got to reproduce the same level as our victory over Saracens.
“Quite clearly we slipped off our expected standards in our defeat at Sale, and we then hit back against Saracens.
“But now it’s imperative that we sustain the level we reach against Saracens, in an extremely testing environment.
“Next year that will be the difference between making the play-offs and not, ultimately.”
EXETER CHIEFS: L Arscott, J Nowell, P Dollman, J Shoemark, M Jess, G Steenson, H Thomas, B Sturgess, J Yeandle, H Tui, D Mumm, D Welch, B White, J Scaysbrook, R Baxter (capt). Replacements: C Whitehead, C Rimmer, C Mitchell, A Muldowney, D Ewers, W Chudley, H Slade, I Whitten.
GLOUCESTER RUGBY: R Cook, C Sharples, H Trinder, B Twelvetrees, J May, F Burns, D Robson, N Wood, K Britton, S Knight, T Savage (capt), L Lokotui, S Kalamafoni, A Qera, B Morgan. Replacements: D Dawidiuk, D Murphy, Y Thomas, P Buxton, A Hazell, D Lewis, M Tindall, S Monahan.