Gloucester Rugby: Davies' delight at Savage show from rising star
FORCEFUL competitor Tom Savage epitomises Gloucester's forward-pack dominance, believes impressed Nigel Davies.
Aggressive back-five forward Savage terrorised London Irish with ball in hand in Gloucester's 40-31 Reading victory on Saturday, working doggedly in the tight exchanges too.
The 23-year-old led Gloucester's cavalry charge up front, with Ben Morgan also resurgent on the hoof, and replacements Sione Kalamafoni, Huia Edmonds and Akapusi Qera following suit.
Gloucester boss Davies hailed Savage's all-round showing, and said he is quite happy throwing the former Hartpury College captain into the starting line-up – either at lock or blindside flanker.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Savage started at six on Saturday but shifted back to lock when Kalamafoni replaced Will James.
After selecting Savage for the Northampton loss at second row, Davies said the Shropshire-raised heavyweight is fast establishing himself as a first XV mainstay.
Savage's meteoric rise continues apace: the former Shrewsbury RFC man has only been playing regular rugby six years.
Three years ago Savage was battling to climb out of Hartpury's third and fourth XVs – but now he is rated as a growing Premiership force.
Hailing Gloucester's continued scrum dominance, Davies said the Cherry and Whites forwards are dominating Kingsholm proceedings so far this term.
He explained: "I've been delighted with the way the pack has gone.
"I think we've been the dominant scrum in those two games, the lineout is a bit more technical, and we're showing signs that that's improving.
"We scored our last try through our drive, and our ball-carrying is excellent.
"Perceptions are starting to change, because we've got a forward pack and a squad of forwards that can really impact a game.
"If you look at the way guys like Tom Savage have come in and impacted our game, it adds a real extra dimension to what we've got.
"I see Tom as a starter, wherever that is.
"He's got so much energy and commitment, and he's so physical, he's a great pro.
"And he's the type of guy you want to play with, you want him on your team.
"The whole backline is finding its feet, learning how to evolve and gel together, and that will improve quickly I'm sure.
"But in the meantime the forwards are taking the charge, and it's great."
Hailing Gloucester's resolve in riding London Irish's backline storm, Davies said the Cherry and Whites must now build on their first win of the new campaign.
Tries from Ben Morgan, James Simpson-Daniel and Akapusi Qera paved the way for Gloucester's first competitive victory under Davies, all underpinned by seven fine penalty goals landed by Freddie Burns.
Davies said that first win relieves some pressure – and will allow Gloucester to scrutinise their approach more critically this week.
He continued: "I still think our commitment and resilience is 100 per cent, but our performance level's at about 60.
"We've got a long way to go, a lot of work to do and we can get much better than we are.
"We're showing glimpses of what we can achieve, but not for sufficient periods to control matches as much as we're going to need to, to be as successful as we want to.
"It sounds pretty basic, keep the ball and you'll score, but it's not at all as easy to do that at all.
"The contact area is going well for us, certainly with the ball, we can be a little bit more disruptive without the ball, but we're building on that.
"That scope for improved performances, that's only potential at the moment, but we've got to turn that potential into reality.
"This was a big game for us, a big result for us, it makes everything a lot easier.
"Sometimes it's hard to be too critical off the back of a loss, because you want to keep heads up, but I think we can afford to be a little critical of areas of our game this week, because people will be more receptive."
Hailing Simpson-Daniel's smartly-taken try, Davies said the evergreen wing is a fine foil to all Gloucester's young talents.
He added: "Sinbad is the grandfather there: he's the assistant backs coach to Mike, that's what he likes to call himself.
"But he's great to have in there, there's a lot of youngsters and a lot of energy, and he calms them down a little bit sometimes.
"He's a real quality player as well, he's got real explosive power, and he's still got a good few years left in him."