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."
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).