Visitors Viewpoint - views from the Gloucester camp
3 September 2002 19:53pm
The Gloucester coaching team of Nigel Melville and Dean Ryan were relieved men after their side pinched the win against NEC Harlequins on Saturday through a late Trevor Woodman try, and were impressed with much of their opponents skills and work during the game.
"It is never easy here," said Gloucester's Director of Rugby Nigel Melville.
"Quins are an improved side and much better than they were last season. There's a lot more spirit in the side and I thought what they did they did very well, and they took their chances well."
"It was an excellent first try there was a great off-load in there, hard to repeat obviously, but there was some good skills shown by them."
Whilst praising the part Quins played in such a thrilling contest, Melville appeared very critical about his own side's performance.
"We made too many errors and turned over too much ball," continued Melville after the game.
"It's still August, it's the first game, we're away from home, we haven't got a great away record, and we've got away with a win."
"What it did test was our spirit in the squad, because we were ten points down with 14 players on the field and you could fold in those sort of circumstances, but we fought back and I'm really pleased that we did."
"It wasn't pretty, we opened them up a few times but just didn't finish things and forcing it and you have got to be patient. We weren't patient and once we get a bit of composure in there and we've got our first game out of the way we can start moving forward."
Whilst Melville was rightly praiseworthy of his winger Marcel Garvey, it was veteran number eight Junior Paramore who drew the greatest praise from his coach Dean Ryan.
"I thought that Junior was outstanding," declared Ryan. "Nigel's just touched on winning takes an awful lot of resolve to come back from two quite big deficits and score, and I thought that Junior led that tremendously. It asked for somebody to step up and do simple ball carries and Junior did that so that we could get somebody behind him."
Injury allowed Melville to play former Wigan and Bradford Bulls half-back Henry Paul at fly-half despite the presence of last season's fly-half sensation Ludovic Mercier on the bench, but he does not want the New Zealander settling down in any one role.
"He played very well in pre-season," commented former Wasps boss Melville.
"Ludo (Mercier) was injured until about a week ago and we have had Henry there and he's played extremely well, but you've got to have a platform to work on and we were pinned back in our own half and they targeted him for his kicking from hand."
"We changed that a little bit at half-time but even Ludo found it hard to get out because we were not getting great ball from the forwards and they were stacking up there defence to run at our kickers so there were a few charge downs."
"I've only seen him charged down twice and that was today. He was never charged down in any of the pre-season games. I would question where those people were coming from particularly one of them but he didn't look particularly onside to me, but we weren't playing offsides at that point of the game."
"But I don't want him settling down in one position and labelled as something, I think that he's just a very talented player. I like to see him on the pitch, he's got some tremendous skills and I like to see him in the game."
So a good start for the Cherry and Whites, but Quins were not too far behind, and on another day they may well have come away with the win. For the moment though it's Melville's Gloucester side that have picked up the gauntlet and toughed out a win that may well epitomise their hopes for the season.
"It's encouraging as we are building on a little bit as well and the core of the squad is very strong and they are very determined and when players come off and say I didn't think we would lose that game I beg to differ, but that they have that belief that they can win games and they can win away from home and they don't have this tag that everyone puts on them around them that they can't win away and that's another big positive."
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.