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."
Henry Purdy, a first half replacement for Charlie Sharples, was amongst the try scorers in the 64-19 victory over Aviron Bayonnais on Saturday evening and told GRTV that it was a professional performance, one the team are happy with.
Gloucester's win in Treviso last week means that they need a bonus point win against Bayonne on Saturday evening to secure a home quarter-final (kick off 8pm), but Tim Taylor wants the team to focus on the performance first and foremost.
Billy Burns and Man of the Match Richard Hibbard spoke to GRTV after the 41-0 win in Treviso, on a day when preparations weren't ideal. They felt the team's attitude was key and also praised the travelling support.
Following the conclusion of the Stade Francais vs Harlequins game today, round six is complete and the quarter-finalists in the European Rugby Challenge Cup are now known with Gloucester set to welcome the Cardiff Blues to Kingsholm.
Knowing a bonus point win would secure a home quarter-final, Gloucester completed their European mission in some style on Saturday evening, sweeping aside a spirited but outgunned Aviron Bayonnais scoring 10 tries on their way to a 64-19 victory.