Humphreys hails Gloucester grit


Published: Saturday 3rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys lauded his side’s character and spirit after seeing them bounce back from successive home defeats to start 2015 with a thrilling 26-25 victory over Exeter Chiefs.

Gloucester finished last year with back-to-back Aviva Premiership losses to Bath and Wasps at Kingsholm and Humphreys had stressed the importance of beginning the new year on the right foot.

And the Gloucester players responded with a hard-fought win at Sandy Park on Saturday.

It may not have been the most convincing of performances, but Humphreys admitted afterwards that getting the victory was the only thing that mattered.

He also hopes that the triumph, which lifts Gloucester up to eighth place in the standings, will set the standard for the second half of the season.

He said: “Today was all about the result.

“Often we stand after the matches and talk about the performances but this was all about the result and I’m delighted we got the four points.”

The victory was very nearly snatched away from Gloucester at the end, with Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson hitting the post with a late touchline conversion which, had it gone over, would have put the hosts one point ahead.

That missed though and the Cherry and Whites held out for only their fifth league win of the campaign – albeit somewhat fortunately, according to Humphreys.

The Gloucester boss, whose side were outscored three tries to two, said: “We were pleased with the first half playing against the wind but I felt that the second half was very difficult to sum up – just back and forward, mistake after mistake by both teams and probably in the end we were lucky to hold on.

“I thought we showed a huge amount of character and spirit, especially after the second try just after half-time. Based on the last couple of performances it would have been easy for us to go back into our shells.

“But we kept going and we took the opportunities that came along.

“We’ve been hugely disappointed losing back-to-back games at Kingsholm – it is something that we don’t find acceptable.

“This week was about setting down a marker with almost half the season still to go and we’ve tried to stress getting the new year off to a good start.

“There is still plenty to work on but the pressure comes from within – we don’t want to lose two games at home – but it is very much now the case of everything to play for in Europe where we are top of our group.”

The lead changed six times an exciting second half which saw five tries, three of them in a five-minute burst, but the hosts were ultimately made to rue Steenson’s late miss as they were unable to celebrate their 100th Premiership game with a win.

It was a frustrating time for Exeter head coach Rob Baxter as he saw his fourth-placed side slip to their third straight Premiership defeat – and he told the players he expected better.

“I told the players that I thought we were a maturer and better side than we showed,” said Baxter. “Some of the attacking intent that we showed was fantastic but what has hurt us was that we didn’t convert some of the opportunities we created particularly in the first half.

“What hurt us more was some silly exit plays. You bang in two tries in quick succession and you wrestle the momentum back – what have you got to do? You’ve got to get the ball in the right part of the pitch and start playing the next piece of the game in the right place.

“But what do we do? We end up having a penalty goal because we don’t exit properly and then we end up with a charge down try. We are a better side than that.

“That consistency has helped us get to where we are in the league at the moment but then you see moments of madness. Our effort, endeavour and work rate was fantastic but you can’t give up points as simple as we did.”

Published: Saturday 3rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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