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Gloucester Rugby: 'Knocking out Bath a great way to begin vital run'

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

Tom Savage

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DUMPING fierce rivals Bath out of the LV=Cup would be the perfect way to kick-start Gloucester's Premiership play-off drive, believes Tom Savage.

Gloucester cannot progress in the Anglo-Welsh competition even if they win today's West Country derby at Kingsholm (kick-off 2pm).

The Blue Black and Whites are still gunning for a semi-final spot, though, and Gloucester lock Savage is desperate to end their hopes.

Gloucester face a crucial four-match Premiership run in the month after today's West Country derby.

Nigel Davies' side will take on Northampton, Wasps, Worcester and Bath in a month that will make or break their play-off ambitions.

And Savage knows Gloucester have no more time to drive their game into top gear.

The 23-year-old said: "No matter what competition, any time these two teams meet it's always going to be a massive game.

"We're desperate not to give up the bragging rights.

"And the chance to knock them out of the cup only adds to all of that.

"Hopefully we can upset their hopes of progressing in the competition.

"We've got to get back to winning ways building towards the league, and they can still get through to the semi-finals so they will be coming down all guns blazing.

"We haven't really ever hit our best form this season, and there's no more time – we've got to get it together now.

"One week we'll get one bit right, then the next something else will come together.

"The big challenge now is to produce all of that at the same time.

"Getting our complete game to a certain standard every week, that's what counts most now.

"It's a really important phase of rugby now, and hopefully we can get the right result and kick on from there."

New recruit Lua Lokotui will partner Savage in the second row this afternoon, and the Gloucester squad have been busy drumming in the derby importance.

Jimmy Cowan made his Gloucester debut off the bench in the Cherry and Whites' 16-10 Premiership victory over Bath in October, and the Kingsholm club's summer recruits enjoyed their first derby action in that tense triumph.

Former Hartpury College captain Savage said it is important to study the derby significance – but that it never takes long to appreciate just how much this game means to the club and the supporters.

He continued: "You don't need to be at this club very long to know how big the fixture is and what it means to people.

"So we've been filling in guys like Lua this week, and of course the likes of Jimmy played in that league game earlier in the season.

"So they are all up to speed and excited to take on this challenge.

"Guys like Hazey and Bucko have been around a long time and they understand this rivalry better than most.

"So they have been making sure everyone totally appreciates what is on the line this weekend.

"This will be no different from a Premiership game, no different at all.

"In fact derby intensity is something different altogether, it takes everything to new levels.

"These are amazing games to be involved in, and obviously even better to win!"

Savage signed a new three-year Gloucester deal before the turn of the year.

Under new boss Davies he has quickly established himself as a first-team mainstay, whether at blindside or lock.

Relishing the responsibilities, Savage said he has not had time to reflect on his progress – but hopes one day to have time to take it all in.

He added: "You don't really have a chance to sit back and reflect on what you're doing.

"Some time further down the line in the future I'm sure I'll take a step back and think 'that really did happen,' but at the moment I'm just ticking along and working hard to keep improving."

GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, M Tindall (capt), T Molenaar, S Monahan, R Mills, J Cowan, D Murphy, H Edmonds, R Harden, T Savage, L Lokotui, P Buxton, A Hazell, S Kalamafoni. Replacements: D Dawidiuk, Y Thomas, T Heard, A Qera, G Evans, D Robson, B Burns, M Thomas.

BATH: N Abendanon, H Agulla, M Banahan, S Vesty, O Woodburn, S Donald, P Stringer, C Beech, R Webber, A Perenise, D Attwood, D Day, F Louw, C Fearns, B Skirving. Replacements: R Batty, N Catt, K Palma-Newport, W Spencer, M Gilbert, C Cook, S Rokoduguni, J Cuthbert.

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  • Newilldon  |  February 02 2013, 8:52AM

    Not the strongest line-up from Gloucester but at least we have our best and most talented tight head, Rupert Harden, back playing a leading role in the scrum. It will make a refreshing change to see our scrum holding its own for a change instead of seeing it creaking and being demolished as it has been over the past few weeks.

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