Gloucester Rugby: We must fix our scrum to reach play-offs - Nigel Davies
SOLVE our scrum troubles or we will miss out on the Premiership play-offs.
That's Nigel Davies' message to his Gloucester squad, as the Cherry and Whites take a week's break from training.
Rugby director Davies will plot a return to top scrummage and lineout form when Gloucester gear up for the final Premiership run-in.
Davies has given his players a week off because Gloucester have no game for a fortnight.
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Gloucester sit fifth in the league, level on points with Wasps and three shy of Northampton.
The Kingsholm boss believes his side are still well-placed to hit the league's top-four at the perfect time.
But he admits they must sort out several set-piece issues before their five remaining league clashes.
Gloucester matched Bath's three tries at The Recreation Ground on Friday night, but still slipped to a 31-25 defeat.
Hooker Darren Dawidiuk's red card for a tip tackle on Dave Attwood played its part, but Davies believes Bath's set-piece supremacy stifled his side.
When London Welsh pitch up at Gloucester on Saturday, March 23 (kick-off 3pm) Davies expects a different story.
The former Wales centre explained: "Refereeing decisions are out of our hands, but the set-piece is well within our control.
"We were poor in that department at Bath, and that's a large part of what cost us.
"If we can get that set-piece work right then we can attack teams the way we want to.
"And if we can get that right then we can push towards that top-four goal.
"But there's a lot of work ahead on that front, when the players return for training.
"I said we would target 12 points from these four games and we've got 11.
"I think it was important that we stayed within touching distance of the top four, and we've done that.
"There's five huge games left for everybody, and we're in the fight, we're in the chase.
"Sides are going to drop games and it's going to be a huge, dramatic run-in to the end of the season.
"The important thing is we're in the fight.
"So I'm satisfied with where we are at this point but there is still an awful lot of work for us to do to achieve our ultimate goal.
"It's been a tough block of rugby, so it's good they'll get a week off.
"The team's building, improving, it's a work in progress, but we're not in control of games for long enough really to come away with the result we always want.
"But we're so close to that.
"A week off now will do the players the world of good, and hopefully they'll come back refreshed and ready to jump into the final stage of the season."
Evergreen Mike Tindall produced a combative showing on his 150th competitive appearance for Gloucester on Friday night.
Davies said the 34-year-old will play a crucial role in Gloucester's five-game league run-in.
He continued: "I thought Mike was fantastic, he got a little caught out defensively early on, but aside from that he was excellent again.
"He's very important to the team at the moment, he offers a lot of experience, of course, but he's playing very well.
"So he's going to be very influential to the group as we head towards the end of the season."
Fly-half Freddie Burns cramped up and was replaced on 51 minutes at Bath, while tighthead prop Rupert Harden lasted just 20 minutes.
Fit-again Burns was always expected to be withdrawn, and has sustained no injury, while Davies hopes Harden will be ready for the London Welsh clash.
He added: "We had always planned to take Freddie off at that stage, and he cramped up as we had thought he would after his knee injury.
"He's fine and I thought he ran the game very well.
"We'll have to see how Rupert is over the next few days, but hopefully he'll be okay."
â Season ticket holders and 1873 Club members can now cast their votes for Gloucester's player and young player of the year awards.
Last term Jonny May scooped the young player prize, with Nick Wood receiving the Doug Wadley trophy for player of the season.
Season ticket holders and 1873 club members can make use of the voting boxes at Kingsholm in the Lion's Den, Shogun Bar, club shop and ticket office.
Voting is now open and both awards will be presented after the final home league game of the season, against Saracens on April 23.
The list of players eligible for the young player award is: George Boulton, Koree Britton, Billy Burns, Freddie Burns, Harry Casson, Ian Clark, Gareth Evans, Brad Field, Will Graulich, Tom Heard, Shaun Knight, Rob Langley, Jonny May, Ryan Mills, Ross Moriarty, Steph Reynolds, Dan Robson, Ben Sparks, Elliott Stooke, Yann Thomas.