Gloucester Rugby: Kalamafoni - It's time to crank it up
EVERY game is an opportunity for Gloucester to take their top-four Premiership battle to the next level, believes Sione Kalamafoni.
The powerful Tongan loose forward has called on the Cherry and Whites to raise their play-off challenge in the second half of the season.
And the 24-year-old believes Gloucester's double-header against London Irish is the perfect opportunity to kick-start that process.
Frustrated by Sunday's 28-23 Saracens loss, former Nottingham back-rower Kalamafoni said Gloucester must take every possible chance to hone their approach and hit the heights they crave.
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The Cherry and Whites' Exeter Chiefs clash on December 22 at Kingsholm represents the halfway point of the Premiership season.
Kalamafoni admits Gloucester must improve after the turn of the year to realise their top-four play-off ambitions.
The 18-cap Tongan flanker explained: "As a team it's very pleasing to see the boys play for each other and it's a pleasure to be in a team like that.
"It's moving forward and I think generally for the club we're pleased with results so far overall.
"We're almost at the halfway point of the season, and hopefully we'll crank it up and take it to the next level for the rest of the campaign."
Despite tries from Dan Murphy and Akapusi Qera Gloucester still came up short at Vicarage Road.
Victory in Watford could have propelled Gloucester into second place, but their losing bonus point leaves them fifth.
Nigel Davies' men take on London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday – their second trip to Reading already this term after their 40-31 Premiership victory on September 8.
Now the Cherry and Whites face back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup clashes with Irish – before hosting the Exiles at Kingsholm on January 5.
Calling on Gloucester to capitalise on every chance to sharpen up their approach, he continued: "We need to realise those opportunities that have been given to us and take it with two hands, and hopefully we'll come out with better results in these very top games in future.
"But every game is an opportunity to move things forward and to progress what we're doing as a team.
"And that means every competition and every situation, not just the so-called big games against teams like Saracens.
"So every time we take the field we've got an opportunity to move our game to that next level, and we've got to take these chances.
"Obviously we want to move as far forward in each competition as possible, so there's plenty of motivation for victory in the next fortnight.
"But also these games are great chances to progress our gameplan, sharpen up a host of things and ensure we can go back into league action on top of our game."
Outscoring Saracens two tries to one still proved futile given Charlie Hodgson's haul of seven penalties.
And now Kalamafoni admits Gloucester still have plenty to work on, in their bid to muscle in on the league's top four.
He added: "There are plenty of areas where we could have done better as a team and individuals.
"But the boys stuck at it and stuck in there right until the end.
"It was a good fight for a result, but we didn't quite manage it in the end.
"If we turned it around and had come with the win it would have been a fair call.
"Everyone worked extremely hard for that.
"There are things to improve for the upcoming game, and hopefully we'll get those things sorted.
"You have to sit back and look at it, and we have to look forward to the next game, and sharpen up in a few areas.
"It's frustrating to have lost these two games against top teams, but we'll have a chance to take it to the next level in the next few games."