Matt Banahan claimed the bonus point try in the Gloucester final home game win of the season at Kingsholm on Saturday.
The 28-19 victory over Newcastle Falcons saw the Cherry & Whites confirm their third place finish and Matt Banahan credited Gloucester’s character for the win. Robert Rees reports.
Gloucester final home game win of 2018/19
The interception try came during the Gloucester final home game win of the 2018/19 season came as Newcastle forced the play chasing the bonus point they required to stay in the Premiership.
Looking back at the game Banahan said, “It was probably a lot longer time running than most people would do it in. Ollie [Thorley] would have done it in half the time.
“The team were under pressure at the time and a couple of the boys said it couldn’t have come at a better time to pick an interception and half way there I thought this is the bonus point.”
Hard to read opposition
Newcastle knew only a bonus point victory would see them safe for at least another week. Recognising this, the former Bath winger highlighted why it’s so hard to play against the proverbial wounded animal.
Banahan explained, “When you play in a game like that it doubles the pressure on the opposition trying to chase the game because it’s two points gone. The win and the bonus point.
“It came at the right time, coming under a lot of pressure in the first 10-15 minutes of that first half. Our own mistakes and missed tackles but the character of the boys got us out of that area. The last home game, to get the bonus point is fantastic.
“You analyse teams throughout the whole year and it’s hard when there’s only two games to go as you don’t know what will come from the teams. You can try and expect what you’ve seen in experience weeks but when they have to win with bonus points then the first two passage of plays they scored and caught us off guard.”
He added, “We’ll learn from that as it’s crunch time in the season and we’ve got to be on the ball but the culture in this team has a confidence in the way we play and how we want to play that’ll push us to the end of the year.
“Even though we won we’ll still go back and think we left a few tries out there.”
Never going to be complacent a club characteristic
Despite already claiming a top four spot, Banahan was insistent that they were never going to be complacent. He emphasised that they wanted to take momentum through.
He explained, “It’s good but we still wanted to win the game, especially with the bonus point. We could have easily taken the foot off the gas and said it doesn’t matter if we lose the next two as we’re in the top four.
“You don’t want to do that. You want to create that momentum swing going forward of winning this week, win next week. That’s how you’ve got to think in knockout rugby.”
Closing the gap to Exeter and Saracens
Gloucester currently sit 11 points behind Saracens in second place. When quizzed on what they have to do to close that gap, Banahan said, “It’s not letting teams have that start in games. When we’ve competed against Saracens and Exeter we’ve started well.
“Our attacking shape is brilliant led by Danny [Cipriani] and Ben [Morgan] with his carries and the whole team fitting into the formation.
“We just have to knuckle down. In knockout rugby you can’t make mistakes and if you let a team get ahead it’s always hard work to get back into the game. So wrestling at the start of the game is what we need to do.”
“Nothing changes” insists Banahan
After the Gloucester final home game win of the season took them one step closer to post season duties Matt Banahan insisted that nothing changes in the Kingsholm camp. He was clear that they have plenty of experience to deal with the pressure that comes with.
“If you look at our whole squad we’ve got experience. Ed [Slater] and Fraser [Balmain] at Leicester. Danny with the Wasps and the boys from the Lions. It’s not just me, we’ve got a big unit of people who’ve been to knockout rugby before.
“We’re still a young squad in being together. A lot of boys came in half way through the season fit or from previous duties and we’re learning about each other all the time and to be as cohesive as we are in such a short period is amazing.
“Nothing changes. People put something on it. It’s a game of eighty minutes where you tackle the person running at you and run as hard as you can with the ball. It’s just a game when you step over the white lines and the clearer you think about that the easier the game is.
“The best teams you can see nothing changes in their players’ behaviour. There shouldn’t be a game bigger than another game. We train the same days as we have all the year.
“We don’t want to change and shock ourselves, we’ll do what’s worked well all year.”
Last Word on Rugby will bring you all the action from the final round of the Gallagher Premiership season and into the knockout stages.
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