Gloucester Rugby: Nigel Davies on Bordeaux style of play
TACKLE-AREA kings Gloucester can boss the battle of the breakdown, believes Nigel Davies.
Rugby director Davies reckons the Cherry and Whites are among the Premiership's early contact-area pacesetters.
Backing his side to improve still further when it comes to snaffling possession on the ground, Davies said Gloucester expect a stern examination against Bordeaux at Kingsholm tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).
Impressed Davies said the Top 14 club are more adept than most French sides at the attritional contest for the ball on the ground.
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Former Wasps forward duo Joe Worsley and Raphael Ibanez are central coaching figures at Bordeaux.
Wasps were renowned for their defensive zeal and breakdown control in their trophy-winning heyday, with both Bordeaux coaches pivotal figures within that.
Davies believes they have transferred those methods to France, but still reckons Gloucester can edge them out.
He explained: "You can see from their work around the contact area that they are pretty organised there.
"It's good that we know what they're doing, but it will definitely make them more difficult to play against because they are effective there and consistent.
"They are a powerful side around the tackle area, and we've got to stand up to that – it's a good test for us.
"It's difficult to take too much from their game against Irish, but one thing's for sure – they'll be out for victory, to make up for that.
"They are a little bit more physical than other French teams, and a bit more technical in the contact area, which you don't often see from French sides.
"Bordeaux will be a difficult side to break down I would expect, but our players will be excited about that challenge."
Revealing Gloucester are building their own analysis data to rate their players' breakdown efficiency, Davies said the Kingsholm club must build extra flair into their powerful line-breaking forward play.
He continued: "A lot of the stats around the contact area bear out the fact that we've probably been one of the more effective teams in that area, in the first six games of the Premiership.
"And we're going to do our own analysis, and we've built that profile up over the first six weeks, in terms of what we're looking at, because it's a big thing.
"When we talk to players about selection, as to whether they are being selected or not, the contact area is always a big factor.
"It's quite a fluid system that we're playing, the frame we give to the players.
"A lot of what happens on the field comes from the players, their calling systems and their heads-up play.
"Their decision-making within that framework is crucial.
"We've got to mix that ball-carrying up front with a bit more flair now to take the opportunities that present themselves.
"Sione has been fantastic for us so far, and I still believe he can keep getting better and better.
"He and Ben Morgan are obviously primary ball-carriers for us, so we really want to get them into the game where possible.
"But we've also got to capitalise fully off the back of that, and that means being sharper with our wide play."