Gloucester Rugby: Davies: Top four place as vital as a derby win
DERBY day only adds spice to an already vitally important Gloucester clash this weekend, believes Nigel Davies.
The Gloucester boss fully understands the importance of Saturday's Kingsholm clash with Bath – and not just because of the fierce local rivalry.
Rugby director Davies said the Cherry and Whites are desperate to end their season-opening six-game Premiership sequence with as high a league position as possible.
A victory against bitter rivals Bath could edge Gloucester into the league's top four – and Davies said that is just as important as the pride, honour and bragging rights of the West Country derby.
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After hosting Bath on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm), Gloucester turn attention to the Amlin Challenge Cup for a fortnight.
And former Llanelli Scarlets boss Davies wants Gloucester to close off this run of games in winning fashion.
He explained: "We've improved our performances gradually, and we're looking to continue that process as we move along.
"We've had three away performances and results that we're relatively happy with, and we're pleased with where we are at this point overall.
"We realise we've got a big game on Saturday – it ends the first phase of rugby for us, and we want to finish as high up this table as we can after this first block of league matches.
"But then it's also a massively important game in its own right, because it's the derby.
"I was anxious about the Welsh game, having seen them play and won their last two games, you can easily get caught out by them.
"We spent a lot of time setting up our game accordingly, and we got the result.
"Bath will present a totally different set of challenges – but a totally different set of opportunities too.
"And we have to make sure we take advantage of those opportunities, but also deal with their threats."
Calling on his players to keep calm in the middle of the derby skirmishes, Davies continued: "There's definitely a buzz around the camp at the moment.
"I'm well aware of the importance of this match, I've watched Gloucester-Bath from afar over the years, and it's always compelling.
"The intensity of those local derbies is always clear, and the quality very high.
"It's huge and it definitely adds more spice, and it will always mean a little bit more to both players and supporters.
"But in the context of our season it's a very important game anyway, in its own right.
"So it didn't need any extra spice anyway, but the fact it's Gloucester-Bath will only add to that.
"It's vitally important players play with their heads – we've got to have the passion to deliver the performance.
"But part of doing that is keeping cool heads, and keeping focused.
"We've got to keep on trying to do what we're trying to do as a team."