Bath will be looking to pick up their sixth successive victory at Kingsholm as they face Gloucester in the West Country derby on Saturday. They’ll be hard pressed to do so with Gloucester only losing once at home all season in the Aviva Premiership. Gloucester will be looking for a win to keep their top four hopes alive whilst Bath, who languish down in eighth, will be looking to claw back some points after a disappointing post Christmas run.
Gloucester still chasing top four despite having a firm grip on Champions Cup rugby
The Cardiff Blues victory over Pau meant that Gloucester’s Challenge Cup final spot was nearly enough* to hand them a place in next year’s tier one competition due to the Blues already having qualified via the Pro14. Despite this comfort zone, they are still aiming high and are now looking to push on and claim one of the top four spots.
Speaking in his pre match press conference, Johan Ackermann said: ”I would like to make sure we just do our utmost best and not let anything else drive us – a top four or top six. I just want to see growth in the team and growth in our composure and just our performance and what’s what I’m going to keep driving.
There are players finishing at the club so we’ll try to send them off on a good note and therefore for me if we perform the rest will look after itself.”
*There’s a very slim chance that Racing 92 could win the Champions Cup but finish outside the France top six in which case that would take precedence over the Challenge Cup.
We’re back at Kingsholm again on Saturday, and for the final time this season.
Here’s the action behind the scenes from last Friday’s memorable night.
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) 25 April 2018
”Very special game” lies ahead for Ackermann and Gloucester
Speaking to Gloucestershire Live Ackermann said ”We have to treat it as just another game, but I also realise the passion of both groups of supporters after that first derby. Obviously you could see the passion in the Bath supporters that day and building up to the game our supporters were clear wherever they saw me they want us to win and I think similar this week and a few Gloucester supporters say it’s important this weekend, but I trust that Bath will say the same”.
Gloucester will be looking for back-to-back wins against Bath, something that hasn’t happened between the sides in their last six meetings. Ackermann adding that: ”the one thing about the competition is every game is important, every game there’s some pressure either you need to get back to winning ways or you play for something. Just like last week. Last week was a semi final so everyone would say that game was highly important and this game in terms of the season as in context of the season just a league game, but I know it’s got massive influence on our season, It’s got a massive influence on Bath’s season and therefore there’s a lot of pressure on both groups.”
Gloucester will be looking to carry through the form of their last two victories, having scored over 30 points against Harlequins and Newcastle.
Talking about the form Ackermann said: ”Yes, it’s good. Like I said we were there, thereabouts, but we also had our ups and downs with Exeter and playing okay against Harlequins, but not great and then a better performance against Newcastle. Therefore I consistently say we must pitch up with the right mind-set and look after our performance so that we can give ourselves an opportunity come the 80 minute to be on the right side of the result, but Bath will come all guns blazing because they also want to end well.”
Bath enter the match on a four game losing streak. Their last win coming against Sale back in February and having only won four away games all season, the last of those in January, it’ll be an uphill struggle against an in-form Cherry and Whites side.
Gloucester vs Bath: the West Country derby
Date: 28th April
Referee: Wayne Barnes (198th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan & Simon McConnell
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Citing Officer: Paul Hull
Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images