Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Davies upbeat despite poor start

Matt Garvey does not expect an easy game against Worcester
Matt Garvey does not expect an easy game against Worcester

Gloucester boss Nigel Davies insists he is untroubled by his team's poor start to the Aviva Premiership campaign.

The west country club host Wasps on Saturday after slipping to 11th in the league table, albeit well clear of relegation favourites Worcester.

Gloucester have already lost at home against Premiership rivals Sale Sharks and Exeter this term, in addition to suffering defeats against Saracens and Bath, although victories over Northampton and Heineken Cup opponents Perpignan showed their capability.

"We are hugely disappointed with where we are, but I am not worried," Davies said.

"I know the quality of this squad, and we are going to start winning sooner rather than later.

"We hope to start that on Saturday, although it will be tough against a Wasps team coming off the back of a good win. They will have a lot of of confidence.

"We've just got to start to realise certain things about our game. Against Bath we gave away 20 penalties, and you are not going to win games like that.

"It takes away a large part of your game and it gives a lot to the opposition. That is the priority. We get that right, and things will change."

Wasps are buoyed by an impressive win against Premiership champions Leicester last Sunday, and they have received a further boost with England international flanker James Haskell making his first appearance of the season following injury troubles.

"To beat a side of the calibre of Leicester, albeit missing some internationals, is very important for this club," Haskell said.

"However, it was sort of irrelevant who we were playing at the weekend. It was more important that we backed up our performances in Europe with a win going back into the Premiership.

"As a team, we need to start doing ourselves justice. We have lost by narrow margins to some good teams, but we should have won some games that we haven't.

"If you get beaten by a better team on the day then fair enough, but if you look back at the games we have lost this season, often by narrow margins, the error count has been too high and that is even more frustrating.

"There is always a lot of talk about the potential this side has, but we want to make sure that we make that come to fruition."

Leicester are minus the services of their sizeable England contingent against Welford Road visitors Harlequins on Saturday, while their injury list includes influential performers like Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft, Anthony Allen, Vereniki Goneva and Mathew Tait.

But on the plus side, fit-again Steve Mafi and Matt Smith return on the bench and there are starts for wing Scott Hamilton and lock Graham Kitchener.

"It's good to get some more bodies back because we have been pretty thin in some positions," Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill said.

"The effort and endeavour were there at Wasps last week, but our accuracy was poor and we have to put that right. Quins will come with the attitude to play their game, and we have just got to concentrate on what we do.

"The game is pretty much sold out and we need the supporters right behind us to help us through this difficult period."

Sunday's Premiership action sees London Irish - with Australian arrival James O'Connor making his Premiership debut at full-back - hosting Northampton and leaders Saracens entertaining Newcastle.

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