Gloucester Rugby host Newcastle Falcons in Round 17 of the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday and ahead of the fixture George Skivington spoke to the press.
On Sale Sharks
“Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted but I thought a positive was getting that young halfback combination out to start the game. They took a couple of bangs as the game went on which meant they came off but it’s a real positive for them to have spent the week preparing to play against a very accomplished side. I thought that the first part of the game was pretty efficient and I thought they were playing really well. It was a shame not to get a bit more time out of them.
“Jack Clement getting a start, again, up against a serious backrow, I thought he held his own. He got through a lot of work and it’s a big learning for Jack after the game. There’s lots to review as he can weight himself up against one of the best backrows in the league.
“From that point of view giving the young guys that experience is gold for us.”
On the physicality
“Whenever you play Sale, certainly the last few years, you talk about the physicality and the Du Preez boys and Van Rensburg, those guys don’t hold their punches back! I thought we went toe to toe with them. I thought our defensive line was brilliant in nullifying them. Early on that set right at the beginning of the game where they’ve broken a lot of teams with that play and the boys stood strong. There were a lot of really good sets. The physicality side of it I was really pleased with. We didn’t get the result we wanted but they will finish in the top four and they are serious title contenders.”
On game management
“We’ve been down to 14 men ourselves too many times this year so we know the sort of game you have to steer yourself to. Bath away is a good example. I thought Billy (Twelvetrees) managed that really well for us and we tried to put the pressure back on the other team and Sale did that. They mauled well off their line and we were disappointed with that aspect of the game. They kicked the ball back and we’ve been very honest this week. We dropped a few high balls and we didn’t get ourselves out of those pressure situations and we made life pretty easy for Sale really.
“Credit to them, Faf de Klerk and those boys made things happen but there were probably some easy fixes for us where we didn’t mop it up and if we did, we were probably a little too focused on trying to exploit where the man wasn’t rather than trying to do the simple bits first.”
“They’re dogged. A very good tight unit. Early on they got a lot of good results and in that first half against Bristol I thought they were really competitive. It was a good game when we went up there. It was feisty and it was two teams who were working really hard against each other. I don’t think it’s necessarily complicated, the way Newcastle do things, but they are very efficient in what they do and I think they maximise their strengths. You see in their group that have been together for a while how tight they are.
“They’ve got a good understanding of themselves as a team. They’ve been together a good while and they know their systems. I think that’s why they got off to such a good start because they are a well-oiled machine.”
On goals for the rest of the season
“Our results have shown that anyone can beat anyone on their day. You fall the wrong side of a couple of results by a score here or there and it’s a loss but it doesn’t mean you’re playing poorly, it just means we didn’t get a certain aspect of the game right. They might not have the results on paper that they would have wanted recently but that’s not dissimilar to us. It’s not that they’re playing badly it’s just every team is seriously competitive in this league.
“We want to finish as high in the table as we can. Our focus is on building and getting this platform right and exposing as many people as we can. We’ve said that all year and that’s the way we set off and we’ve continued but of course we want to climb up the table. You’d like to climb up the table in the right way, sticking to the process and the plan that we set out and it would be nice if we did have a strong finish.”