We're ready to step it up against Bath, says Gloucester's Freddie Burns
Freddie Burns believes Gloucester are yet to produce a performance capable of winning a West Country derby.
But the 22-year-old fly-half reckons the self-confident Cherry and Whites are primed to pull their game together just in time for this weekend’s Bath clash.
Impressed with Gloucester’s resolve in edging past London Welsh 31-25 on Sunday, Burns said Nigel Davies’ men still need to sharpen up.
Gloucester host old foes Bath at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm) with Burns demanding a more consistent showing.
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The Kingsholm men dominated the first quarter against Welsh at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium on Sunday, closing off the field with smart tactical ploys.
Bath-born Burns believes the Cherry and Whites will need all that accuracy and more – and for the whole contest – to extend their strong recent record against their fierce rivals.
Gloucester boast four-straight league victories over Bath, across the course of the last two campaigns.
Admitting the Cherry and Whites are desperate to extend that record, Burns explained: “When it comes to this game everything goes out of the window.
“You can forget form completely, this is something else.
“The rivalry is massive and bigger than simply the clubs.
“Growing up in Bath and now seeing it from the other side as well, it’s a huge deal to both clubs.
“We’re all definitely switched on to the bragging rights for the fans, and we’ll certainly do everything we can to continue our run against Bath.
“It’s always an exciting week that ends in a great match.
“But to win we’re going to need to raise our performance levels again.
“We’ve got to put together a performance to rival the first quarter against London Welsh – but for the whole match – to be able to beat Bath.
“We let our game management slip but we got back into it in the final closing stages.
“To start the year unbeaten away, during pre-season if you had offered us this situation at this point now, we’d have bitten your arm off.
“It’s good to be where we are, but we’re still not performing the way we want for 80 minutes.
“We can build on things, though, especially that first half.”
Unflinching resolve helped Gloucester pilfer a late victory on Sunday, James Simpson-Daniel’s scything break leading to tighthead prop Shaun Knight barreling home for the match-winning score.
Even if Gloucester cannot sustain their craved performance levels against Bath, Burns said they will always sniff out scoring chances.
He continued: “We were a bit on edge in that second half, but we’ll never lose our belief to try things like that break at the end, when it’s on.
“You just know when there’s space and Sinbad’s outside you, that he’ll take the chance.
“And it’s the same with everyone, across the board.
“That belief stays there, and allows us to do things like that.
“It was a great show-and-go from Knighter too, and that was a great finish – not bad for a prop from Matson!
“It just shows the belief and the skills we have, and it’s just sticking with that for 80 minutes and not going into our shells. We made tough work of it at the end, credit to Welsh for forcing their way back into it, but it says a lot about us that we were able to get over the line.
“We lost our way a bit in that second half, but to grind out the victory was important.”
Despite surrendering the lead in the second half against Welsh, Gloucester pulled out the victory – and even threatened a fourth, bonus-point try. Burns booted the ball to touch to signal the final whistle with Gloucester in a stalemate attack – and made little apology for the safety-first tactic.
He added: “We wanted that bonus-point try and we’re a bit disappointed it didn’t come.
“There was probably an opportunity to go wide at one point but the ball was just that little bit slow coming out of the breakdown.
“But we’ve got the win, and that’s the most important thing.
“Enough was enough at the end, it was vital that we got the win and in the context of the match, we didn’t want to risk that by forcing it when it wasn’t on.
“The victory builds our confidence again, and now we’ll get our heads down and get ready for Bath at Kingsholm on Saturday.”