Matt Kvesic column: Hibbard and Afoa will be great for the club

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It’s been a tough few days since the loss to Edinburgh. The body doesn’t feel too bad – it wasn’t a particularly physical game, and there was a lot of kicking – but it was tough to take.

Winning away at Edinburgh was a really good result, because it’s a tough trip up there and a hard place to go and play. With the result between Munster and Perpignan, too, we were right up there and in the mix for qualification, if we were to win last weekend. And that’s why we’re so gutted. We know we didn’t play as well as we should have done, and we didn’t play the conditions as well as they did. Credit to Edinburgh, of course, but we’ve let one slip there really.

Edinburgh kept the ball very well and I think that’s the biggest reason they won. We spent a lot of time in their twenty-two as well, but didn’t always come away with points, which is key. Our discipline as well let us down a little bit, so there’s a lot to work on ahead of a big game this weekend with Worcester.

It’s been a tough week of training this week. The coaches are very good though; they know we’ve not played particularly well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we haven’t worked hard enough, so we won’t get flogged in that sense. But there will be a lot of tough meetings, and a lot of honesty in terms of putting your hands up and saying what you’ve done wrong. And it’s that sort of stuff which is hard to do during the week after a poor performance.

In terms of qualification, we can’t write ourselves off yet. When we play at our best, we can beat any team out there. Munster have obviously found a bit of form so they’ll be a tough side to break down, but we have got them at home. We showed what we can do up in Edinburgh, so if we can bring that sort of intensity to Kingsholm when we play them, that’s a big opportunity for us.

Perpignan away is a tough place to go and a great place to play rugby – I went there last year – so there’ll be a great atmosphere and a hostile crowd, but depending on how they see the competition and where they’re standing, you never know what could happen out there. We’re not out of the mix completely; we’ve just made it a lot harder for ourselves, which is frustrating.

We haven’t really sat down as a group and spoken about targets for the rest of the season at the moment. It’s just about getting back to playing our best rugby, and bar Sunday’s game we’ve been playing some really good rugby – think of the Leicester and Quins games, even though we didn’t get the result, it was just the little things that let us down.

So how do we turn these losses into wins? A lot of it’s down to indiscipline really. We’ve been giving a lot of penalties away in kickable positions, and teams have been making those kicks. Everyone needs to be firing on all cylinders, because it’s such a fine line in Premiership rugby, and the teams are so good, with so much quality in the league, that that one extra pass that you might not get in to score a try or that one kick you miss is vital. It’s such a fine line between winning and losing, and I think the luck’s just not gone our way so far.

It’s great for the club that we’ve signed two quality front row players in John Afoa and Richard Hibbard. The strength in depth that we’ll have next year will be awesome, so hopefully they can have a big impact. With the new lad, Sila Puafisi, having come in as well, obviously it’s a great boost to the club.

We’ve just got to try and back up some results now – it’ll be a tough game against Worcester at home, which is obviously a big one for me. If I’m involved, it’ll be good to play against my old club. They’ll have watched the game from the weekend, and if the weather’s not great again I’m sure they’ll play a pretty simple game, much like Edinburgh did and try and grind us down like that. If we play to the best of our ability, though, we should be fine.

By Matt Kvesic

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images