Nigel Davies: Show of squad strength steels Gloucester for the Premiership opener
MISSION muscle-flexing accomplished, now Gloucester can sweep into the new Premiership season.
Rugby director Nigel Davies was impressed with the Cherry and Whites’ twin victories in the Kingsholm double-header.
Gloucester edged out Plymouth 22-13 in a staccato performance in the first of two Kingsholm clashes.
Davies’ men then dispatched Llanelli Scarlets 31-17, running in four tries against the Welsh regional side.
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Second row James Hudson suffered a pectoral muscle problem against the Scarlets, with Davies admitting his situation will be monitored carefully in the next few days.
Dan Murphy, Jimmy Cowan and Martyn Thomas claimed Gloucester’s tries against Plymouth.
Then James Simpson-Daniel, Billy Twelvetrees, Matt Kvesic and Rob Cook helped the Cherry and Whites complete their pre-season schedule in style.
After defeats at Toulon and Munster, Davies had demanded two wins in Gloucester’s two final Premiership warm-up clashes.
Davies believes Gloucester will gain confidence from the two results, to carry into their league opener against Sale Sharks at Kingsholm on Saturday, September 7 (3pm kick-off).
He explained: “I’m delighted with the overall performance of the night across the two games.
“It was a show of strength from the whole squad.
“We had to dig deep, but the players responded well and I’m proud of them for that.
“It was always going to be a challenge, but it’s exactly what we wanted.
“And now I think we can move into next week ready to start the season and take on Sale.
“I’m very pleased with the strength in depth across the whole squad, it’s a long season and you need to have options and you need to be able to rest players at certain points.
“I think we will be able to balance things pretty well on that front.
“But ahead of all that of course, we’ve got to get off to a good start.”
Ryan Mills pulled out of the Plymouth match at the last minute after feeling unwell.
Gloucester’s only other injury worry from the night proved to be lock Hudson.
The summer recruit from Newcastle Falcons picked up a pectoral problem.
Davies admits to concerns around the lineout coordinator, but said Gloucester will have to carry out fitness tests next week to assess the extent of the damage.
Davies said: “James has a pectoral muscle problem but at this stage we don’t know how bad it is.
“It’s a concern certainly, but we’ll just have to assess it over the next 48 hours and keep monitoring it into next week.”
Openly admitting to trepidation against facing hometown club Scarlets for the first time, Davies was relieved the match proved a thriller, with both parties reaping the benefit.
Gloucester were pleased to hold out for victory, while Scarlets rallied impressively after a lacklustre first-half.
Davies added: “It went well overall coming up against my old club.
“I know almost all the players and coaches at the Scarlets so the bragging rights were always going to be big from this match.
“I think we went well and deserved the result but also the Scarlets played some excellent rugby and showed some serious fight in the second-half.”