Don't underestimate the importance of that win at Newcastle
VICTORY at Newcastle for Gloucester may well prove priceless a far way further down the track of this embryonic season.
Make the treacherous journey in one piece, dog it out and return with a win and you have done extremely well.
Achieve that on the back of an iffy start and you have done very well indeed.
Gloucester's track record at Newcastle is not one to try to emulate. The coaches would have tried their level best not to keep on about it, but players are more than adept at idle gossip and they would have had a bit of banter about the lack of success up there.
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But the game had more important implications than those of the ground being a bit of a jinx; Gloucester had to grind out any sort of win to get the season on a more even keel. That in itself, whether real or imagined, adds pressure and just seems to raise the bar a bit more.
The last thing Gloucester needed was a narrow but honourable defeat to give the record thus far a very odd look.
Far better to win horribly than to go down gloriously would probably best sum up the fans' feelings, for a defeat would have given the squad's confidence an almighty smack to a very painful area. It may be too early in the season to start preaching doom and gloom, but three losses in four outings would have Exeter Chiefs salivating at the thought of inflicting even more damage.
There can be nothing but admiration for the win at the Toon because it was a game that seemed to have so much stacked against the Cherry and Whites. Newcastle will battle for every second of each and every encounter because they know they have to do so just to get a decent chance of survival – and they were not allowed to disrupt the visitors enough to gain the victory.
They came close, though, and it would not be Gloucester if the final seconds of a tight game were not fraught with near chances for the home side – and near heart failure for the visiting supporters. The stage is now set for Exeter Chiefs, who do like to beat up opponents where it matters – in the front five. Gloucester have looked a bit under-powered in this area so far, yet they were not cowed by Northampton so could achieve parity up-front when everybody is on song.
But it looks as if that will require constant heroics, straining a squad carrying injuries requiring fewer players to give more for longer than opponents.