James Simpson-Daniel: Clinical finishing can take us to next level
HAD we taken even three quarters of our chances against Northampton and Newcastle, we would be purring about our form right now.
As it is, things felt a bit circumspect on the trip back from Newcastle on Sunday night.
All too often in the past that bus journey back to Gloucester from Kingston Park has been horrible, people brooding on a frustrating defeat.
Even though we won 22-16 we left a lot of chances on the field against the Falcons, so things were a little flat on the way back home.
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That said, we still won – and that's massively important.
We are genuinely not far from bringing everything to gether and producing a powerful bonus-point win against someone.
But we do need to sharpen up and be far more clinical with our finishing.
The two tries we did score against Newcastle were the product of working hard to put ourselves in good strike positions, then doing the simple things well to finish.
When you trust the structure and gameplan, get it right and pressure teams in the right areas of the field, that's what happens.
Our plans do work, that's what the last two weeks and wins have shown us.
So we can take heart and confidence from that – but at the same time we have to realise we've got to be far more cut-throat in attack.
It's another huge game against Exeter this weekend and they are a team I respect hugely for their ethos, work rate and also their attacking ability.
They are one of the most physical and gritty sides around, but to label them as only that and little more would be hugely short-sighted.
The Chiefs can mix an attacking game with the best of them, and will catch us cold if we're not right on our mettle defensively.
It's one of those games you really relish though, because you know it's going to be full-tilt from both teams.
HUIA READY TO BE INVOLVED AFTER INJURY FRUSTRATIONS
INJURY can almost feel like being in quarantine.
You sit in the gym lifting weights or doing specific exercises to speed up your recovery, and watch everyone training outside through the window.
I’ve had my fair share of injuries and frustrating recoveries, so I know how Huia Edmonds has felt during his lay-off.
He’s fit again now though, and ready to get stuck in, and he’s already made a big impact in training.
Huia is the kind of guy who loves being involved in everything that goes on at the club.
When you’re injured it’s easy to feel you’re not a full part of it.
Huia has been so keen to get back involved he would have happily travelled to Newcastle just to be part of it all, even though he wasn’t playing.
He got through his first game back in Monday night’s A League game at Leicester though, and it will definitely have boosted his confidence to come through that unscathed.
He’s got a great rugby brain, he has a great engine and is more physical than some people realise.
So while our hookers have been going well so far this season, I think Huia will definitely add to the mix now.
PLAY ON AND IGNORE POLITICS
THE Heineken Cup row hardly registers on our talking radar as players.
It has probably taken up less than one per cent of our conversations in the last few weeks.
The political situation hardly affects us at the moment, and that’s important.
It allows us to get on with our jobs without worrying what’s going on in the background.
Every player loves the Heineken Cup though, and would really want to see the competition continue into next season and beyond.
That said, there are several other interesting propositions on the table at the moment.
A competition involving South African teams for example would be intriguing.
If the Heineken Cup continues then that would be fantastic.
But I think there are other avenues that could still create an exciting tournament in the future too.