Talking points from Gloucester’s defeat to Bristol Bears

Gloucester suffered a 34-16 defeat to Bristol Bears on Saturday afternoon after multiple penalties cost them a game in which Bristol ran away with the victory. Gloucester now have a two week rest before facing current top of the league Exeter on the evening of Valentines day. So what do Gloucester need to do to get their cupid’s arrow back?

Good resetting defence, but little cover out wide

Although their penalty count was high, Gloucester’s defence reset itself well when Bristol were attacking. The Cherry and Whites quick resetting defence saved them on multiple occasions when Bristol were looking really strong in attack, especially in the second half. Bristol used Nathan Hughes on the wing as a strong ball carrier for the majority of the game, something that Gloucester found hard to cover. Louis Rees-Zammit and Tom Marshall tried to cover their respective wings but there was a lot of space out wide for Bristol to exploit. Gloucester needed to put in a tremendous shift defensively, given that Bristol had over 60% possession and territory. They did well in the first half, ensuring that they prevented Bristol from getting over the try line, but the Cherry and Whites started to tire in the second 40, which was reflected in the way that they defended in the red zone. 

Ill-discipline still costing Gloucester 

This has been a problem for Gloucester all season with many games being lost on the penalty count. In the first half, Gloucester conceded seven penalties, compared to Bristol’s three. Simple penalties were given away throughout the match for discipline offences that should have been mandatory for Gloucester. Arguably, some of referee Karl Dickson’s decisions didn’t favour Gloucester and they were unlucky on a few occasions. Both penalty counts were high, with Bristol conceding eight penalties to Gloucester’s ten. The penalty count has constantly been an area this season that Gloucester have struggled with and have failed to have a consistent period of games with a particularly low penalty count against them. Today, was harder than previous fixtures for Gloucester given the lack of ball they possessed, but their ill-discipline is something that they must work on during the break of fixtures. 

Captain Lewis Ludlow share his thoughts on Bristol

The Cherry and Whites are starting to suffer without Cipriani 

The loss of Danny Cipriani is becoming ever more apparent in the way that Gloucester are playing. When they had the ball, their direction was limited and creative thinking was lacking. Cipriani, who is still out injured for at least another month could always offer Gloucester a creative flare to inject some pace into their attacking play. Although Gloucester’s possession was minimal and their in-play kicking was kept to a minimum. With Owen Williams set to be away on international duty with Wales for the Six Nations period, Gloucester turn to young fly-half Lloyd Evans. The 25-year-old has only made 25 first team performances since the 2013/14 season and still has a lot to learn if he is to take the place of Cipriani when he is injured and Owen Williams when he is on international duty. Last season Gloucester really struggled when Cipriani had an injury last season and they need to be careful not to fall back into the poor run of games they had without him last season. That said, given the little ball Gloucester managed to retain today, even Cipriani wouldn’t have helped them. 

Gloucester need to go back to basics will keep possession  

Gloucester must start to retain their possession if they are to start consistently winning matches and being a true competitor in the Premiership. Their possession today was 38% however, the time in which they had the ball was minimal. They have started to lack consistent forward play, where the forwards are making small meters and protecting the ball at all costs. Today, when Gloucester did have the ball, they found it hard to retain that possession due to many attacking penalties going against them. Looking at some of Gloucester’s best performances, they have all come from the pack working together and protecting the ball to open up some spaces for the backs to exploit the opposition’s crumbling defence. 

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