Gloucester Rugby: Davies calls for killer instinct after Bordeaux win
GLOUCESTER 25 BORDEAUX 13
FRUSTRATED Nigel Davies believes Gloucester must find the killer instinct to realise their full potential.
The Cherry and Whites blasted in four tries in 37 minutes to take control of this Amlin Challenge Cup clash at Kingsholm – but slipped off the pace after the break.
Lamenting his side’s inability to close out the contest after their quick-fire start, Gloucester’s rugby director said the Kingsholm men must learn to capitalise on dominance to hit their peak.
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Charlie Sharples’ brace and further scores from Will James and Billy Twelvetrees eased Gloucester to the try bonus point ahead of half-time.
But just when the home side were primed to cut loose after the break, Bordeaux pegged them back.
Admitting it was a sombre dressing room at full-time despite stretching their unbeaten streak to seven, Davies explained: “Overall it’s hugely frustrating because we just didn’t take advantage of the first half.
“It was a bit like a morgue in the changing rooms after the game – but we won with a bonus point.
“Not taking anything away from Bordeaux because they played a better second half than us.
“But we didn’t control the game at all after the break, and we were second-best in the contact area after the break.
“We were inaccurate when we tried to get field position, and we only had that field position maybe twice in the half.
“We didn’t do much with it when we did, and overall it was frustrating.
“We were nowhere near where we need to be, and we won’t accept that performance level as something we’re happy with, otherwise we won’t fulfil our potential.
“There were some nice tries there, but to be the team we want to be we’ve got to put sides to bed, and we’re not doing that at the moment.
“There’s plenty of grit in our game, plenty of resilience, we battled hard to keep them off the scoreboard.”
Imperious James Simpson-Daniel ran Gloucester’s show behind the scrum in the first half, scything off his wing to vintage effect.
It was not the first-half free-running that won Gloucester this clash though – it was a powerful scrum when Will James was in the sin-bin.
The otherwise-impressive lock threw a needless punch as Gloucester defended their line after the turnaround.
His absence meant Bordeaux plumped for the five-metre scrum.
Number eight Ben Morgan slotted in as a makeshift lock – and Davies sent on a totally-fresh front-row.
It proved a tactical masterstroke – the fresh legs allowed Gloucester to drive Bordeaux clean off the ball and win a vital penalty to clear their lines.
The home side never found fluency after the break, and even conceded a try with the game’s final play, flanker Gauthier Gibouin ghosting home.
But despite the stutters they still recorded the victory.
Admitting he sent the replacement front-row into battle to offset James’ yellow card, Davies added: “That was a key moment: I think that was a big point in the game because we weren’t in control.
“We had to keep them out at that point, and the fact we managed it helped see us through.
“I thought it was the right thing to do at the time – it was a bit of a risk but it paid off!
“You’ve got to be brave, I tell the team we won’t play with any fear, and equally I’ve got to back that up as a coach as well.
“It’s my job to make decisions, you don’t always get them right but when you do it’s very pleasing.”
Anything but a classic second half, and Gloucester still have plenty to polish – but with every positive result the confidence and resolve grows that bit stronger.
GLOUCESTER: Tries: James (6), Twelvetrees (12), Sharples 2 (25, 37) Cons: Twelvetrees (37) Pens: Twelvetrees (35).
BORDEAUX: Tries: Gibouin (80) Cons: Lopez (80) Pens: Sanchez 2 (18, 24).
GLOUCESTER: James (52).
GLOUCESTER: M Thomas (R Cook, 63), C Sharples, T Molenaar, M Tindall (T Taylor, 53 [D Robson, 76]), J Simpson-Daniel, B Twelvetrees, Jimmy Cowan, Dan Murphy (N Wood, 53), H Edmonds (K Britton, 53), S Knight (R Harden, 53), W James (T Savage, 66), J Hamilton (capt), S Kalamafoni (M Cox, 43), A Qera, B Morgan.
BORDEAUX: D Domvo, A Vasiunubu, C Brousse, M Denetre (F Le Bourhis, 73), T Brana, N Sanchez (C Lopez, 68), J Seron (B Serin, 64), F Labbe, F Rofes (capt) (S Fort, 68), Y Boutemane (J Poirot, 46), K Navickas (A Chaveau, 59, F Tisseau, G Gibouin, R Kitshoff, D Larrieu. Unused: L Delboulbes, H Chalmers.
REFEREE: M Mitrea (ITA).