Peter Butler column: Growing confidence in Gloucester Rugby
I HAVE watched Gloucester go whole seasons without an away win, so to see them take a second before the end of October represents a truly impressive start to the season.
Okay, they may have unnecessarily allowed London Welsh back into the game after looking comfortable at half-time.
However, the clinical final try from Shaun Knight after excellent work from Freddie Burns and James Simpson-Daniel revealed a growing confidence in the Gloucester ranks.
The disruption of losing three men before the kick-off was swept aside, with one of the replacements – summer signing Shane Monahan – getting over for a try.
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There seems to be a new philosophy away from home under Nigel Davies.
Under previous regimes the onus had been on squeezing games out, but this Gloucester squad seems more prepared – and perhaps allowed – to go toe to toe with the opposition.
But that can only come with effective game management and the building of a platform, and the Gloucester pack and fly-half Burns provided that in spades.
Burns showed in the second half against Wasps that he is maturing into a number ten who can take the game by the scruff of the neck and he proved that further against Welsh on Sunday.
Credit must go to the Exiles, who proved they are going to make a decent fist of trying to stay in the Premiership this season.
After wins over Exeter and Sale, Lyn Jones' men so nearly produced another upset – Gloucester were lucky the chance came when it did, although there was no luck about the way in which it was taken.
Bath come to Kingsholm on Saturday with Gloucester sitting fifth in the Premiership. It's the last game before the first European break, which makes it all the more important.
The players will be desperate to sign off on a winning note so they feel like the league has been left in the ideal state to come back to, against Leicester at the end of October.
Plus it's Bath at Kingsholm, and nothing puts a bigger smile on the faces of the Shed that beating the Blue, Black and Whites.
NIGEL'S TOUCHLINE STANCE IS THE RIGHT ONE TO BE TAKING
I AM delighted to see Nigel Davies prowling the touchline and speaking directly to his players during games this season.
It is a welcome change from the microphone management style of the previous regime, who I thought were detached from the action sat up at the back of the grandstand at Kingsholm.
It is further evidence that Davies is a man from the old school who has modernised his rugby philosophy just enough to keep pace with a developing game.
As a player you would much rather hear it direct from the horse’s mouth rather than relayed from the stands via a microphone.
Surely, sometimes the message can get lost in translation, something which doesn’t often happen when orders are shouted on from the side of the pitch.
As I’ve said before, I’m impressed with the way Davies has started at Kingsholm and I hope that can continue.
Credit to the Gloucester board who avoided marquee names and recruited someone who up to this point has dovetailed with the club excellently.
SINBAD'S STARTED BETTER THAN EVER
THE form of James Simpson-Daniel has so often served as a barometer of the overall form and mood of the entire Gloucester squad.
When the chips are down, Sinbad often struggles as a player who needs a team full of confidence with the ball in hand to do what he does best.
When the rest of the team are on song, Simpson-Daniel (pictured, left) feeds off that, and we are reaping the benefits of a squad who feel they are building momentum and confidence with every game.
Sinbad’s start to this season has been as good as any I’ve seen from him.
Some had suggested he may have to take a back seat with the likes of Charlie Sharples and Jonny May coming through in the wing positions.
But the 30-year-old has made himself impossible to leave out with the way he has started this campaign.
With Simpson-Daniel unlikely to be troubled by the international selectors , Gloucester will hope he can stay fit all season and that his form can continue at this level, or with a run of games even get better.