Big derby game ahead as Gloucester seek knockout stage qualification

With the senior team on a fixture break Tim Taylor has temporarily taken over the reins at Gloucester ahead of their final Premiership Rugby Cup pool game against Bath. As Gloucester seek knockout stage qualification Taylor will look to implement some first team players as they run back into the Gallagher Premiership.

Gloucester seek knockout stage qualification

The Cherry and Whites still have a shot at qualifying for the semi-finals of the Premiership Rugby Cup providing they pick up a win and other results go their way. Taylor is firmly setting his sights on that final four saying, ”We absolutely can go through, we’ll need a few results to go our way but we’re going to focus and get the result for ourselves.”

Derby game huge despite the competition

Despite the game taking place in the development competition Gloucester are going in all guns blazing as they see it as a big derby battle. Looking ahead to the match the Gloucester defence coach said, ”No matter what the competition Bath against Gloucester is a massive game and whoever is privileged to put on the Gloucester jersey I’m sure will thrive in going down there and playing at the Rec.”

”They’re really excited about this weekend. It’s going to be a massive game whatever team they put out it’ll be a big challenge.”

Mixed team selection ahead

It would make sense for Gloucester to slot in a few first teamers considering the lack of senior games in this block of fixtures. Taylor does want to do that but insists there will be youth mixed in as well: ”We’re going to finalise the team on Thursday as we’re waiting on a few boys to come back, but I’m sure we’re going to have a good mixture out there. We’ve got this block to get boys back fit and really improve our game and what we need to work on and what we need to do better.”

”We’ll potentially see some return off the injury list, and we can then finalise that on Thursday.”

Youthful exuberance paying dividends

Gloucester have managed to give ample game time to their fringe players and academy talent this season. Their last Champions Cup pool game saw a side littered with inexperience really take it to the French champions and put in a good performance.

Taylor explained how excited the boys have been to get back out there and showed just how pleased he was in their development, ”A lot of the young boys got to play out in Castres last week and put in a great effort. Their energy and intent were brilliant and the last two days in training after last week off has been brilliant, the attitude has been excellent.

”It’s an excellent experience. The best thing you can get is to play as you can do all the training you want but it’s so different when you’re out there on the pitch. They’ve had a good opportunity this year and they’ve done really well, working hard on and off the pitch and they’re looking forward to getting back into it on Saturday.

”It was great to see Lloyd [Evans] get a run out in Castres. I thought he had a great game and controlled it really well, he’s done the same again in training today. He’s got a good air of confidence to him and he’s got a good skills set. It’s good to see him getting a few games under his belt as it’s crucial to be in that driving seat and boss the team as a ten.”

Academy strength boosts training

Looking at the entire squad Taylor explained how having such a strong academy has benefited the whole squad during the week, saying ”The A league games, the Premiership Cup games are a great way to see these young boys play. They’ve trained a lot with the seniors a lot this year which is great as we’ve been able to get two fifteens’ out on the pitch which is so important leading into games.

We have that quality in both defence and attack within training to get the best out of both sides of the ball. If you can prepare against a really well drilled defence as an attack side, then you’re well prepared for the game on the weekend.”

Top try scorer out short term

There will be a few late calls before the squad announcement, but Gloucester will be without their Premiership top try scorer as Taylor revealed ”Charlie Sharples picked up a thumb injury out in Castres. That won’t be too long so it’s lucky we’ve got this three week block to get that right.”

Elsewhere in the squad it seems that Henry Walker is set to be included in the matchday 23 leaving either Franco Marais or James Hanson out of the team.

Bath with little to play for

With Bath currently lying on the bottom of their pool with only one point Gloucester will be keen to pick up the win come Saturday. Gloucester will need to put in a big performance and possibly require a bonus point to apply further pressure to the chasing teams who play on Sunday.

Bath will be keen to upset their rivals as they haven’t beaten them since April of last year. However Bath have won four of the last six meetings of these sides so expect a real hard game as they look to kick on in the latter stages of their season.

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