A last-minute Owen Farrell drop goal gave Saracens a 16-19 victory over the Cherry & Whites at Kingsholm on Friday evening. Head Coach, George Skivington, was left gutted for his players, who he felt had done enough to claim the points from the league leaders.
“I’m gutted, I thought the boys set themselves up really well. It was a great battle actually, I don’t think there was much in it and it could have swung either way.
“We’ve said before that we want to play rugby. Against Irish the weather was torrential, and it looked like it might be that same again tonight. I was really happy with how the boys played, I thought they were spot on and it’s very tough what happened to them at the end.”
Despite being hit by a number of crucial injuries over the festive period, Gloucester Rugby went toe-to-toe with the 5x Gallagher Premiership winners. Skivington says his coaching staff and players work hard to make sure anyone can fill in.
“We’ve not had much luck with injury that’s true, but we work very hard on making sure everyone in the squad is well versed on what they’ve got to do, we’ve got a very clear plan and we’ve got good lads who work really hard. I’d like to think whoever slips in will work hard and get stuck in, I was very proud of them.”
But Skivington admits there are some areas where the Cherry & Whites can still improve that could turn a narrow defeat like Friday into a victory.
“There is areas we can be better, we created a lot of pressure as we did last week and I think there was just a few fumbled balls in the 22. A little bit better communication and we can probably score a try or two.”
Over 13,000 fans were present at Kingsholm, just 6 days after a capacity crowd saw the Cherry & Whites edge out London Irish. Skivington praised the supporters, and hopes they enjoyed the rugby on offer, despite the defeat.
.“The supporters here are phenomenal, and I think they’ll appreciate what they saw tonight, the lads pushing it right down to the wire. It’s really important to us that we don’t want any fans to come here and not see 100% and us give everything. I know the loss is gutting but hopefully the rest of it they enjoyed.”
Number 8, Ben Morgan, was also left heartbroken by the last-minute defeat. This was the second time Saracens have beaten the Cherry & Whites at the death this season.
“The lads fought all the way through that game, and to lose it like that really hurts. Obviously, this is now the second time in a row we have lost to them in the last play of the game. It doesn’t make it easy.”
But Morgan remained positive, and says they’ll take a lot of heart from their performance.
“There’re loads of positives to take out of that game. Saracens are a class outfit, they’ve been consistently competing in the top competitions for the last decade now but they knew they were in a game with us tonight and only swung it in the last ten minutes and won it at the death. So, there’s a huge number of positives, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.’
Morgan also highlighted their need to be more clinical when in attacking positions, if they are to contend with the top teams.
“There’s a lot of belief in the squad, absolutely we think we should have won that game. We don’t want to talk about the decisions in that game, we’ll look at what we can control. We can be a bit more clinical in the attacking zones.”
The 33-year-old thanked the supporters for two great atmospheres over the last two games, and says the players are working hard to make the fans proud.
“The last two games at home have been a stellar effort from everyone here. Its great to have this place bouncing, the crowd really make it and tonight it was a tremendous atmosphere.
“Everybody loves a Friday night at Kingsholm, and I hope everyone here was proud of the effort we put in, and we’re working hard to get those final tweaks right to come out on top.”
This week, Gloucester turns their attention back to European rugby, with the return of the Heineken Champions Cup. The Cherry & Whites host four-time Champions Leinster Rugby at Kingsholm, and Morgan is expecting a big test.
“Leinster are easily the best team in Europe and we’re looking forward to welcoming them here. It’s a change up for the next fortnight going into the Champions Cup, a competition we’re excited to be in, and there’s everything to play for for us.
“It’s a hard place to come, they’re going to have to be on their mettle. We’ll have a good training week, get the detail ironed out but again our focus is on ourselves, make sure that we get our things right and we’ll present a challenge to them.”
Tickets for the fixture are available here.