Gloucester Rugby: Youth movement impresses Pete Buxton
SWATTING aside international flyers Fiji saw some of Gloucester's blossoming cubs come of age, according to experienced campaigner Pete Buxton.
The LV= Cup window has allowed Cherry and Whites director of rugby Nigel Davies to throw some of his charging youngsters into the fray against Ospreys, Fiji and London Welsh.
Defeat at Harlequins preceded that before Buxton was entrusted to guide them as a steadying influence from the back of the scrum, but he says they are now ready to step up more permanently.
After slipping to late defeat at a soggy Liberty Stadium last Friday against the Ospreys, the rapidly-improving charges answered with a 31-29 win over Fiji at Kingsholm on Tuesday.
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Falling 18-0 behind in the first half, the youngsters' characters and credentials were given a stern test.
But they dug deep, with their pack dragging them to victory.
With Welsh visiting Kingsholm on Saturday in the next cup installment, following a 31-25 Kassam Stadium raid in September, Buxton is backing the young guns to show their improvement again despite a number of regulars returning.
"After we lost at Harlequins and Ospreys it was really important for us to get back to winning ways and we've managed that and we've just got to keep that momentum going," said Buxton.
"London Welsh will be very tough but I don't think they can make many changes because they've not got a massive squad. They gave us a really tough game at Oxford and I'm expecting the same.
"They're very physical and very direct and have a good kicking game so it will be a tough game.
"But, depending on how we decide we are going to go with the game, we should be confident that we can use the young guys and also be confident we can use the guys that have been rested.
"We've come off a great win and the guys have showed that they can step up, and that gives us a bit more depth to the squad and that gives Nigel a bit more of a headache.
"They've been great and they've pushed really hard and shown that they can play at this level.
"They've shown that the difference between some of the more experienced guys and themselves is very small.
"Luckily it's not my decision to make but I think we can go into the game confidently and do a job on Saturday without a doubt."
Having seen a number of different generations flood through the Kingsholm doors during his time at the club, Buxton says the youngsters' enthusiasm and energy is infectious.
It was that belief that helped Gloucester fight back from 18-0 against Fiji and Buxton says it is rapidly becoming a trademark of the Davies era.
"That's the advantage of being young, they've got a lot of belief in themselves and they really believe in what they are doing," added Buxton.
"It helps as well that we have a real positive feel about the club at the moment.
"Training has been great and it all mixes together and we have a real belief that we can compete at the minute.
"It showed in spades on Tuesday after we got ourselves in a bit of hole, but we managed to work hard and get ourselves out of it."