Nigel Davies relives Bath horror show to fire up his Gloucester Rugby squad for West Country derby action
NIGEL Davies dredged up the hurt and humiliation of Gloucester's three-week old LV=Cup hammering at the hands of Bath yesterday.
The Gloucester boss relived the 32-5 Kingsholm shaming from February 2 in full horror-show detail – to gee up his Cherry and Whites charges for Friday night's trip to The Recreation Ground (kick-off 8pm).
In the immediate aftermath of Gloucester's heaviest professional-era home defeat to fierce rivals Bath, rugby director Davies played down its significance.
Davies maintains that Anglo-Welsh Cup loss did not colour the Premiership matches that followed, against Northampton, Wasps and Worcester.
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But now he has conceded that comprehensive walloping does have a bearing on Friday's league trip to The Rec.
Scotland lock Jim Hamilton and England centre Billy Twelvetrees are unlikely to feature on Friday, with Davies keen not to tamper with preparations on their midweek return.
Fit-again fly-half Freddie Burns and centre Mike Tindall are both ready for action though.
Downplaying that derby defeat three weeks ago has proved a masterstroke from Davies – Gloucester have hit back with two wins and two league points despite defeat at Wasps.
Now he hopes to use that defeat to Gloucester's psychological advantage once more – this time drumming home its importance.
Davies explained: "There are a couple of areas where we need to make some statements in this game, where we were second-best in the last one.
"I'm not going to talk too much about that, because we've got to turn up on Friday, and produce the goods on the field.
"I think after the Bath game in the LV=Cup, I didn't make too much of it, I skipped over it in certain regards, because we had to focus on what was a big game the following week.
"But we've been able to dip back into this week, and just remind ourselves where we were in that game and I think that's important.
"It didn't colour our performances after that, because it didn't need to.
"But we have revisited that this week, for obvious reasons. In fairness to Bath, they came here and they did a job on us, and we'll respect them for that."
The wry smile told its own story when Davies was asked if that comprehensive defeat does hold sway this week.
Keen not to detail Gloucester's plans, Davies has called for deeds not words this weekend.
He continued: "Well we've been able to revisit it. We've been able to dip back into it, just remind ourselves about it, which is important.
"It's all about turning up in the local derby, and there's a lot of words that can be said, that don't really mean much.
"There's a mix of boys brought up in the area who understand it fully.
"The others have a good feeling for this derby now, understanding more what it means to supporters, especially after the reaction to our poor defeat.
"In one regard that might be a good thing.
"It's probably helped us to push on in our league form so far, and now we've got a chance to put that right."
Davies admitted he rates a full week with his match squad over the temptation to restore internationals Hamilton and Twelvetrees to his line-up.
Gunning for their third-straight Premiership double over Bath on Friday, Davies said the Gloucester squad need as few interruptions as possible in the build-up.
He went on: "We'll know for sure in the next 24 hours, but we're planning not to, and again, part of the rationale for that is that we've used our squad all year anyway.
"And it's worked well for us.
"We've got to send out some clear messages to the group early in the week, because they are preparing, and getting the messages and the detail from the coaches.
"And it can be quite disruptive sometimes to bring people in who are not quite up to speed with things.
"Their heads will be in a different place as well, in the international arena.
"And this one is so key in terms of getting the mentality right, so the fact they haven't been here right from the start of the week has an impact.
"Freddie's fit: he wasn't far away last week but now he's firing on all cylinders.
"He adds a lot to the group with his energy, as well as his quality.
"We've played the last three games without an out-and-out ten, and the players have done remarkably well.
"Ryan Mills has been fabulous, coming straight back from injury, not playing in his natural position, and playing three huge games.
"He's done a great job, and he deserves a lot of credit for what he's been able to do."
Delighted Tindall is fit again after the hip problem that ruled him out of Friday's 29-23 Worcester victory at the last minute, Davies added: "Mike's been outstanding: his last two games in particular have been some of his best form for the last three or four years.
"We had a shirt specially embroidered for Mike's 150th game, which I never got to present.
"Hopefully I'll be able to hand it over on Friday."