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George Skivington left rueing missed opportunities in Challenge Cup defeat

Gloucester Director of Rugby George Skivington believes if his side had converted their early pressure into points, it could have been his side that came away with the Challenge Cup trophy. 

The Cherry and Whites came out of the blocks quickly in the opening 15 minutes of last night’s Challenge Cup final, however it was the Sharks that ultimately won the game 36-22.

Speaking to the media after the game, Skivington said: “I think we fired some good shots in the first ten and we fired some good shots at the end, but for the most part of the game the Sharks sucked us into a battle of physicality, which obviously is the game we didn’t want to be playing against those boys.”

He added: “If we’d scored a try early on, I think we could have possibly got on top of them; but we didn’t get any reward from that first ten minutes of pressure. They got down to our end took three points. Once they got that dominance of scrum it didn’t see whatever we did. We could get parity there and that made it pretty hard.”

As Skivington alluded to, the dominance of the Sharks pack eventually took it’s toll. The power from front-rowers Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Vintcent Koch was too much for the Cherry and Whites in the scrum, and the maul was also another strong area for the Sharks too.

“We recognise they’ve got serious firepower there,” Skivington said. “They tightened everything up today. They did what the South Africans do very well at international level, and focused in on those points and were very, very accurate in it.  Ultimately they squeezed us, as they do very well and with that calibre of player was always going to be tough.

“A season of serious ups and downs”-George Skivington reflects on Gloucester’s season

George Skivington-Credit: IMAGO

The Cherry and Whites have had a strange season all told. 14 cup wins this season propelled them to the Premiership Cup title and the Challenge Cup final too, however their Premiership campaign was a different story.

Skivington’s side finished the league season in ninth place, and only recorded five wins from their 18 games too.

Reflecting on the season as a whole, Skivington said it had some ‘serious ups and downs’: “I’d say it’s a season of some serious ups and downs. We’ve had some low points. When we lost that many games on the trot, it was very hard for us to regain any quality in the Premiership, getting anywhere near the playoffs wouldn’t have happened.

He added: “I’m proud of the group, I’m actually proud of everyone in the building that once we made a plan and said we’re going after a couple of things, we did that and we stuck to it. We’ve fallen short at the final hurdle getting the second trophy which is gutting; but we showed that when we knuckle down and commit to something we’re really good.

Gloucester’s Premiership campaign, coupled with rotation to prioritise the European games, also allowed Skivington to blood some youngsters in too. The likes of Josh Hathaway and Seb Blake quickly became mainstays in the squad, and other players also got (a harsh) exposure to the top flight.

“There’s lots of work for me to do in the off-season around the Premiership,” Skivington continued. “There is context around that losing run we had; whether anyone wants to hear it or not is a different story. But from my point of view, there’s lots of things I can take away and review, and I will.”