Gloucester Rugby: Davies adamant his plans won't be derailed
JUDGE us on our next four games – that is Nigel Davies' plea to Gloucester supporters.
The Cherry and Whites boss is confident Saturday's heaviest home defeat to Bath in the professional era will prove an aberration.
Challenging his players to turn the 32-5 derby humiliation on its head, rugby director Davies believes Gloucester can still battle for a Premiership play-off place.
The Kingsholm men face four pivotal Premiership games in the next month, starting at Northampton Saints on Saturday (kick-off 12.30pm).
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A poor run of results in these four league games – against Northampton, Wasps, Worcester and Bath – and Gloucester can kiss goodbye to their top-four ambitions.
Gloucester lost 26-7 at Franklin's Gardens in LV=Cup action just two weeks ago, but Davies revealed the Cherry and Whites will return to the East Midlands with a host of new attacking intentions.
He explained: "The manner of the Bath loss wasn't great in the end, but overall this group of players has performed well this year.
"So we've got to put the result into some context as well.
"And we'll want to be judged at the end of these four games.
"Everyone was a little sore after the weekend, you just don't want to lose those games.
"That was a battle we lost – but we haven't lost the war.
"In the context of our season so far it's not the end of the world, and we've just got to move forward."
Gloucester refused to show their hand at Northampton two weeks ago, mixing up selection and handing players opportunities to prove themselves – but also to protect their Premiership intentions.
Former Wales centre Davies admitted the tactic in part was designed to keep several new tactics up their sleeve.
Saturday's game will reveal whether Davies has produced a perfect poker face, or Gloucester really do have a royal flush of new attacking ploys.
He continued: "I believe we can use that Bath defeat to our advantage over the course of the next period.
"The two LV=Cup games, we've used that to sit on what we've had, realising that there was something more to come.
"This week is a big week for us, to take us to the next level.
"It's a massive focus for us to compete for a top-four spot – and the next four weeks will really tell us where we are.
"We kept our powder dry going into that game, and we've got a few things that we want to take into this weekend that we've held back I suppose. But we'll see.
"There were elements of that game that I was reasonably happy with, but then again it wasn't the complete performance by any stretch of the imagination.
"We were in the contest for much of the game, but then we dropped off.
"We've had a complete reorganisation this week and that's been planned.
"It's a huge period for us in the league, very important for us.
"It's quite difficult to know where we are because we've made a lot of changes in the last two weeks, so it's not too distressing to me at the moment.
"No one likes losing and we should have played better in parts but we've given opportunities and now we refocus on the league, which is really our primary focus along with the Amlin.
"This is a crucial period for us.
"In some ways the last two weeks has given us a clear focus going into this run.
"You would obviously want to be at your best and winning well, but that can't always be the case when you switch your team around.
"We've taken a lot from the last two games.
"It's a different approach from us this week: you can't keep the same level of intensity in terms of your preparation week-in week-out, you just can't.
"So this week is all about ramping it back up again.
"We've looked at some new combinations and a different balance.
"But now we have to refocus for a key part of the season that will dictate whether or not we compete for a top-four spot."