Gloucester Rugby: Burns and Twelvetrees can only get better
POTENT playmaking partnership Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees will only get better, hails impressed Gloucester boss Nigel Davies.
The Cherry and Whites' midfield fulcrum duo bossed Saturday's 29-3 Sale Sharks drubbing, a victory to cement Gloucester's top-four Premiership position.
Composed Gloucester ensured Bryan Redpath endured a wretched first Kingsholm return, as Sale slumped to their eighth defeat in nine league matches this term.
Outstanding fly-half Burns slotted a perfect seven from seven shots at goal, maintaining his status as the league's leading points-scorer, while Akapusi Qera's try and a penalty score sealed an accomplished victory in testing soaked conditions.
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Muscular centre Twelvetrees once again dominated the tackle area, forcing a host of turnovers and at the same time always offering Burns the ideal link through the backline.
Rugby director Davies hailed the pair, admitting they can prove a devastating combination if they continue to uphold and even raise the standards they have set for themselves.
The former Wales centre explained: "They are building a great partnership, every week they're gaining more understanding of how each other operates, and they are feeding off each other very well now.
"They're a good foil for each other and they complement the team very well.
"Hopefully that will continue to flourish, because it's pretty exciting to watch and when we get it right, it's pretty effective.
"The conditions dictated that we play in a certain way, and we did that.
"Freddie played the conditions really well, and so did Jimmy Cowan and Billy too.
"Freddie is really maturing into that role, he kept the ball in front of the forward pack, and we pressurised them well.
"Also our scrum was very dominant, and that was a big factor, of course, as well.
"We converted pressure into points, and the way Freddie's playing, he's not just putting us into the areas to squeeze teams, he's also turning opportunities into points.
"So I really think he's somebody who's on top of his game right now."
Davies admitted Burns' England elevation is turning into an inevitability, given his recent peerless form.
Hailing another stellar turn from the current Premiership player of the month, he continued: "I think Freddie's playing superbly well, I think he's got everything an international fly-half needs.
"What we've seen with him this year is a maturity that maybe wasn't there in the past.
"His game management is excellent, and he put a lot of pressure on Sale.
"And to step up and land some of those tough shots at goal, that's impressive.
"He's always a threat and he keeps defences guessing, and it's great to see someone play with confidence and make good decisions.
"If he carries on playing the way he is selectors have to look at him.
"I think it's inevitable really that he'll get his chance at some point with England.
"In one regard that's great, because it's our job to develop individuals to be the best they can and at this moment Freddie is playing exceptionally well."
The back-story of Redpath's return created an extra fizz in the Kingsholm air – but Davies said Gloucester are developing an impressive single-mindedness that could prove crucial to their continued progress.
This ruthless streak is certainly new for the Cherry and Whites, and the coaching chief said the players are starting to appreciate how to control that for themselves.
He continued: "It was a very professional job, we did what we had to do.
"Regardless of what anyone said there was a lot of emotion around it, and we had to get on with the job in hand.
"We were pretty straightforward in our gameplan, to get the result, and I'm delighted with how we pulled that off.
"If you worry too much about the opposition then that takes your focus away.
"And we need to be like that every week.
"We've got to be very focused in terms of our game, and how we deliver a performance.
"That's our number one priority and nothing else matters.
"If you do that then you take away some of the other stuff that can get in players' heads, and maybe affect how they perform on the day.
"And we'll continue to try to do that.
"What we've been able to do is deliver that, even though it's not that easy, and I think the players are now starting to understand how to do that for themselves."