Peter Butler column: Leicester, Cowan and discipline
Gloucester veteran Peter Butler's weekly column:
WHEN THE TIGERS CALL THERE CAN'T BE ANY HALF MEASURES
FOR all Gloucester’s winning run will have done for confidence at Kingsholm, they still haven’t managed an 80-minute performance under Nigel Davies.
Whether it be a fight-back against Bath, or having to hold on against Bordeaux, the Cherry and Whites have yet to maintain their intensity for two halves of rugby and that will be a concern with Leicester coming to town this weekend.
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It was a great start against the visiting Frenchmen, but it could have been so much different had the Top 14 side not lacked a bit of cutting edge in the second half.
Leicester are far more likely to take any chances that come their way, which means there is a bit of pressure on Gloucester as the Premiership returns to action.
That said, you can’t knock two wins out of two, including one away in France, as a return in the Amlin Cup so far.
Gloucester’s away wins have been the most encouraging aspect of this season so far, and although they have generally come against struggling sides, Davies will be delighted with the grit and resolve the players have shown outside Kingsholm.
It’s great to see Charlie Sharples getting on the scoresheet again. Tries are what he is all about and while he has still had some good games without crossing the whitewash, scoring is central to his game and confidence so long may the tries keep coming.
I was disappointed to see a few kicks from Billy Twelvetrees go begging, but it will probably take him a while to master the Kingsholm conditions, particularly if Freddie Burns is taking the bulk of the shots at goal.
Since the new stand was built, the Kingsholm wind has become difficult to predict and it can often knock you off your rhythm.
Twelvetrees will do well to take plenty of practice at the ground and not up at Hartpury, where clearly the conditions are different.
Rob Cook is also yet to get the chance to kick regularly, so Gloucester are in a position of strength.
Overall you can only be encouraged. Gloucester are putting in the type of performances that make you feel it could all click into place at any moment.
I LIKE WHAT I'VE SEEN SO FAR FROM JIMMY
JIMMY Cowan has made a pretty impressive start to his Gloucester career, showing the type of bite that has perhaps been missing in recent years.
You are always wary when a big name comes to town from overseas, but I am happy to say all of those fears have been alleviated with the beginning Cowan has had.
I would expect him to start this weekend against Leicester, although you never can tell with squad rotation these days.
Facing the Tigers will give him a proper taste of the intensity of Premiership rugby and the kind of level and physicality of performance needed to beat some of the big guns.
Of course, a man of his experience will have met that kind of intensity before, but he has to work out where he slots in and how he can use his attributes to the benefit of the Cherry and Whites.
I will be watching on with interest as Cowan’s spell at Gloucester develops. But at the moment I certainly like what I see.
LEICESTER WILL PUNISH ANY ILL DISCIPLINE
DISCIPLINE seems to have emerged as a theme of the last two games against French opposition.
In the face of much provocation, Andy Hazell lost his cool against Mont de Marsan, then Will James let the red mist descend against Bordeaux, the result a yellow card with Gloucester on their own line.
Games can turn on moments like these, and neither Hazell or James will need telling that.
Playing on the edge means exactly that, because go over the edge and you more often than not end up letting your team-mates down.
As it was, a shrewd decision by Nigel Davies and a power scrum from Gloucester meant James’ ill-discipline went unpunished in terms of the result of the game.
And Hazell’s team-mates saw to his that his red card didn’t lead to a defeat the week before either.
But I think Davies will be having a quiet word with the squad as a whole in the build up to the Leicester game.
Going a man down against the Tigers could be far more significant in the context of the game and of Gloucester’s season.