Gloucester Rugby: Andy Hazell - We'll learn our Saintly lesson
ATTENTION to set-piece detail will make or break Gloucester's chances of Premiership victory at Northampton in two weeks' time, believes Andy Hazell.
Evergreen flanker Hazell admitted relief at coming through his first game unscathed after his 14-week ban, in Saturday's 27-6 defeat at Franklin's Gardens.
Gloucester produced a good try from fit-again fly-half Ryan Mills, playing his first competitive rugby for 218 days after knee surgery.
But the Saints dominated the set-piece, picking off penalties from scrums and a driven lineout try from prop Alex Waller.
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Luther Burrell's first-half try added to Waller's score after the break, to guide Northampton home and dump Gloucester out of the LV=Cup.
The Cherry and Whites cannot now qualify for the semi-finals, despite hosting Bath at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).
Nigel Davies' men return to league action a week later though – and to Franklin's Gardens to boot.
And 34-year-old Hazell vowed Gloucester will be ready for the set-piece challenge, when they return with their full-strength line-up.
He said: "That experience and tight work probably saw them home.
"They were pretty clued-up on what we were doing.
"We couldn't get a foothold in the set-piece, and that wasn't for a lack of effort at all, so it's hard to point fingers.
"But we'll learn from that, the commitment was first-class, and it's the little bits of detail that we need to brush up on.
"And come two weeks' time we'll be ready with all of that.
"The younger lads know the level of detail that needs to be had now.
"Half an inch off in a lineout, and you lose the ball, for example.
"But at the same time they've fronted up, and that's important.
"If you don't front up at Northampton you'll be beaten heavily.
"But it's got to be different in two weeks.
"We know where their strong points are – their set-piece, lineouts and scrums.
"We should have a few more people coming back into that, so we've got to make sure we're ready for that.
"But we've got to keep the same intensity around the breakdown and in defence.
"We always know coming here what we need, but this game just drove all of that home.
"Everything will have to be spot-on at Northampton if we are going to come here again and win."
Relieved to be back in action after his ban following his red card in Mont de Marsan in October, Hazell said his toughest challenge now will be breaking past the likes of Akapusi Qera and Sione Kalamafoni into Gloucester's full starting line-up.
He said: "It's nice to get 80 minutes under my belt, get back into things with the boys.
"I've been working hard in my time off.
"I got a bit of stick from the boys for having a rest, but I was working hard all the time.
"I felt okay fitness-wise, but it's still going to take a few games to get back to full speed.
"The first game's always the worst, you worry about 'what if someone punches me' and all of that, you worry about every permutation possible, it's horrible, but I enjoyed it and I'm glad it's out of the way.
"It was a good tough game, it was physical and that's what I enjoy most.
"So now I've just got to keep battling to find top fitness and form.
"You look at what the back-row has done, they have been brilliant this year.
"It's a massive selection battle there, with guys like Akapusi Qera, Sione Kalamafoni and Ben Morgan having huge impacts.
"It's great challenge to be facing, though, so I'll just get stuck in."