Gloucester Rugby: Charlie Sharples on Leicester Tigers acid test
AMBITIOUS Gloucester are ready to rise to their first acid-test challenge of the season, believes Charlie Sharples.
The Cherry and Whites square up to Leicester Tigers and Harlequins in the next fortnight – and in-form wing Sharples reckons Gloucester are primed to cement their strong start to the new season.
Former St Peter's High School pupil Sharples thinks Gloucester face their toughest test yet when they host Leicester at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 4.45pm).
But the Hong Kong-born flyer believes the Kingsholm men are excited by the challenge of taking on last term's Premiership finalists in successive weeks.
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Gloucester are unbeaten since their opening-day defeat to Northampton Saints, but are yet to hit top form.
Now Sharples has admitted Nigel Davies' men must step through the gears in order to see off the Tigers.
Sharples explained: "This is going to be a real test for us to see where we're at as a squad, we've had a pretty successful start to the season, we've had some good wins but these two games are going to be a real marker for us to see where we're at.
"We're preparing to take on two of the league's top teams, and if we can do well out of that we'll take a lot of confidence from it.
"I think everyone will be excited for a big game on Saturday and we need to put in a big performance.
"We'll have to raise the bar from our Bordeaux win on Thursday to beat a team like Leicester, but you sometimes respond to the situation and hopefully we'll naturally raise to that level.
"A Thursday game has given us a little bit of time to rest and hopefully we'll be fresh for what is a huge game for us and the biggest game of the season so far really."
Gloucester racked up four tries in 37 minutes in last week's 25-13 Bordeaux victory.
But after the break they failed to add to that tally, just when everyone at Kingsholm was gearing up for a try rampage.
Sharples handed the credit for his two tries to the once-again imperious James Simpson-Daniel – but then quickly admitted the Cherry and Whites cannot accept any more inconsistent performances.
Gloucester's Premiership top-six and even top-four ambitions will come under intense scrutiny in the next fortnight, and Sharples knows it is high time early promise is turned into impressive solidity.
He continued: "A lot of credit needs to go to Sinbad really, because I think he had a hand in each one of those tries.
"In the second half our backline never really got going, it was very stop-start, but it was still enjoyable to be on the end of a couple before the break.
"We're happy to get some tries and be part of a team win, but it was a disappointing first half.
"We showed glimpses of what we can do but we never managed to get that going again after the break.
"Resilience is a word that Nige has used, there's plenty of that and plenty of grit.
"It was good to keep them out for 39 minutes, and a shame we didn't quite hold them out full-stop.
"The most important thing was that we got the win, so we can't be too down on ourselves about that.
"But we've got to tighten up now.
"If we slip off the pace the way we did against Bordeaux then Leicester will punish us, there's no two ways about that.
"Everyone is aware of that and focused now to ensure we can produce our best performance of the season, hopefully when it matters most."