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'It’s an unstructured situation and guys like Mercer thrive off that'

By PA
Gloucester's Zach Mercer in action at Leicester (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Gloucester head coach George Skivington was thrilled to see his side end their long wait for a win at Leicester following their 27-25 Gallagher Premiership triumph at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

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It was the ideal way for the Cherry and Whites to resume their league campaign, seven days after defeating the Tigers in the Premiership Rugby Cup final, with Italy scrum-half Stephen Varney scoring a late winning try.

It was also their sixth-straight win in all competitions, while it dented Leicester’s play-off hopes as they dropped to seventh in the table to sit behind Bristol, who thumped Northampton.

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Skivington said: “16-and-a-half years since Gloucester had won here is a nice thing to get off your back, but the more important thing is backing up a good performance from last week. We knew there would be a lot of quality coming in for Leicester off internationals, that’s something we talked about in the week.

“We tried to enjoy last weekend and enjoy the moment of winning a trophy – which is probably long overdue at Gloucester – and then it’s a real challenge to back it up mentally, physically, so that’s the really pleasing bit for me.

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“It would have been easy to over-enjoy winning the Prem Cup and relax, but that wasn’t the case at all. That’s a nice moment for him [Varney] at the end – obviously, he had a good Six Nations and he is just enjoying his rugby.”

Zach Mercer and Chris Harris both struck in the first half for Gloucester, who led 17-8 at half-time after Tommy Reffell hit back for Leicester. Solomone Kata and Jasper Wiese then both rumbled over off the back of driving mauls and Jamie Shillcock appeared to have completed the Tigers’ comeback, only for Varney to snatch it for the Cherry and Whites.

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Leicester head coach Dan McKellar said: “I don’t think I have been more disappointed after a loss, to be honest, just to lose at home. We started well, we didn’t get any reward off the back of it and all of a sudden it was 17-3 (to Gloucester).

“We showed a lot of character to go back to our strength, we mauled incredibly well and got ourselves in front, but they won a lot of ball on the ground tonight. One loose ball off a kick and we didn’t defend as well as we needed to.

“Collision-wise, I just thought we were off the pace a little bit, even in and around our breakdown. Defensively, we allowed them to offload and they won the loose ball on the ground. All of a sudden, it’s an unstructured situation and guys like Mercer thrive off that.”

 

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3 Comments
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Stephen 118 days ago

Maybe that’s why SB doesn't want to go to Mercer….SB wants structure and Mercer doesn't play like that. It's a team game not a stage for one person to shine.

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finn 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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