Dean Ryan knows Gloucester face a tough test against London Irish
GLOUCESTER'S head coach Dean Ryan has acknowledged that his side face 'a fierce' contest against London Irish in the Guinness Premiership this Sunday.
The Kingsholm coach has yet to finalise his line-up but believes Gloucester's next two matches against the Irish and then Saracens will go a long way to shaping the rest of the campaign.
"They [London Irish] are a good side with a lot of team spirit, some big men, a very competitive line-out and a developing scrum - it will be a fierce contest," Ryan said.
"But they have added components to their game this year - they move a lot more ball and possess some very dangerous game breakers - we are under no illusions about the task we face.
"They are unbeaten in four matches and won well last weekend so we need to prepare as well as we can."
Ryan will finalise his line-up tomorrow but is almost certain to change the second row partnership that started against Leicester last weekend. Although Adam Eustace will retain his place, Peter Buxton could be shifted into his more accustomed position in the back row, which would leave room for Quinton Davids to return.
"There were elements of our game last weekend that didn't function as well as would have liked but we believe we will react in the right way this weekend," Ryan said. "We view every game with the possibility we can win but we have to make it happen."
The only major injury concern is to lock Mark Cornwell, who has a disc problem. If he is ruled out then Jonathan Pendlebury will be included in the squad but there could be more alterations.
"We make changes every week and there will be some this weekend," Ryan said. "But they only become obvious if you have lost a game, like we did last Saturday.
"I believe we need more than 15 people who are comfortable with that competitive environment and that is what we are trying to do."
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Looking to try a new sport? Look no further than Walking Rugby as thanks to Gloucester Rugby you can come along and try out the fast-growing sport at taster sessions across the county, starting this Wednesday.
Gloucester return to European Rugby Challenge Cup action on Thursday evening with the visit of Stade Rochelais to Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm). Early Bird ticket prices are available until 6:30pm on matchday.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.