Foundation­s for success Now to take next steps

Gloucestershire Echo - - DEACS WEEK -

GLOUCES­TER’S much im­proved 2018/19 sea­son came to a sober­ing con­clu­sion with the play off de­feat against Saracens. Glouces­ter started in true Cherry & White style with a try full of flair, pace and vi­sion.

The first 20 min­utes was a very tight af­fair, but even in these early ex­changes you could see how Saracens wanted to play the game, es­pe­cially with the wind.

The Lon­don­ers’ kick­ing game was key to their vic­tory; they are not afraid to kick to com­pete and the kicks stayed on the pitch with a very con­cen­tred chase and chal­lenge in the air. You see this tac­tic of­ten and one that is used in the in­ter­na­tional game fre­quently, but when you have two wings in Sean Mait­land and Liam Wil­liams who are ex­cel­lent at win­ning the aerial bat­tle, this tac­tic can pay off hand­somely.

When pos­ses­sion is won from these ac­cu­rate kicks, the Glouces­ter de­fence is then in scram­ble mode, which is not a great place to be when Saracens have so many at­tack­ing threats in their side. Many Glouces­ter sup­port­ers were ques­tion­ing Luke Pearce, the ref­eree, re­gard­ing the off­side line, and the break­down.

Yes, Saracens do play on the edge and they all buy into this hos­tile way of play­ing pres­suris­ing the op­po­si­tion and the ref­eree.

With so many of their play­ers at the top of their game, in­ter­na­tion­als of the day, they are used to this pres­sure placed upon them; it brings out the best in them, they do not shrink. They fight so hard for every scrap of pos­ses­sion and when they have it they are such a po­tent threat. Like Exeter the other team in the premier­ship who dom­i­nate the league and the grand fi­nals, they have a way of play­ing and they stick to it with a be­lief the sys

tem will bring them the vic­to­ries, and for a high percentage of games this is the case.

The de­fence of Saracens is very sti­fling, com­ing off the line at great pace.

The key is they all do it to­gether and at times it looks off side but the ref­eree strug­gles to sin­gle out any one player.

If a player jumps out of the de­fen­sive line, this is then an easy de­ci­sion to make for the ref­eree but it’s rare.

Glouces­ter likes to play out the back, pass­ing the ball be­hind the de­coy run­ner; this has brought them so much success this sea­son with Cipri­ani pulling the strings.

It’s a hard method of at­tack to stop, but Saracens did just that by not stop­ping on the de­coy run­ner but ac­cel­er­at­ing to the at­tacker who stands in a deeper po­si­tion thwart­ing the Glouces­ter at­tack.

This high pres­sure in your face method of de­fence at­tack spooked Glouces­ter and forced them into un­char­ac­ter­is­tic forced passes that Saracens rel­ished.

So where does this leave Glouces­ter? They will be­lieve, as I do, that they have moved for­ward this sea­son in the most com­pet­i­tive club rugby union league in the world, and in a sea­son when the margin for er­ror was very slim.

From a fore­cast fifth they fin­ished in a re­spected third. Well done guys.

Any club hav­ing a bad month of re­sults could see them very much at the wrong end of the ta­ble.

Look at Le­ices­ter Tigers, a gi­ant of the English game, fin­ish­ing one place off the bot­tom of the league.

Break­ing the Saracens - Exeter car­tel will have to be done in or­der to win the Premier­ship. Eas­ier said than done.

David Humphreys and Jo­han Ack­er­mann have put great foundation­s in place - the next step is to com­pete in Europe and the grand fi­nals.

With a more sta­ble squad in place and the commitment of Cipri­ani this will be a great as­set to at­tract fur­ther world-class play­ers.

The depth of the squad will be vi­tal and help gain re­sults when front line play­ers are un­avail­able, but it will also push the play­ing group to im­prove.

In some games this sea­son Glouces­ter has lost its shape and forced the odd pass or kick which has ended poorly.

The play­ers must trust one an­other, and be trusted to all de­liver that op­ti­mum level of per­for­mance every week, what­ever the en­vi­ron­ment.

Chal­lenges that all at Glouces­ter must grasp.

It has been a real plea­sure to watch Glouces­ter this sea­son.

The club has done the city proud and once again made us all be ex­cited about top-flight rugby chances.

The club, man­age­ment and sup­port­ers are full of op­ti­mism that we can com­pete at the top ta­ble of English rugby once again.

This was ev­i­dent af­ter the Saracens game when the Cherry & White sup­port­ers were in good voice and hu­mour.

We have all so much to look for­ward to next sea­son, not just at Glouces­ter Rugby but also the small mat­ter of the World Cup.

I can­not wait. Thanks for all the feed­back af­ter reading my col­umn on­line and in the papers; it is all very much ap­pre­ci­ated. En­joy the rugby break and have a great sum­mer.

Willi Heinz clears the ball up­field against Saracens at Al­lianz Park

with Andy Dea­con, for­mer Glouces­ter prop and Cirences­ter direc­tor of rugby

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