I don’t think I would be over-egging the pudding to say Kingsholm was a pretty low place after the home defeat by Leicester. There was a sense of inevitability about the last 15 minutes, given Gloucester’s form and Leicester’s dogged nature which we have seen repeatedly in those situations, but what a difference a week makes.
An All Black prop signed for next season, speculation – unconfirmed at the time of writing – that a Lions hooker is also heading in this direction, and an away win at Edinburgh that displaced the previous equilibrium in Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup.
I wasn’t at Murrayfield but BBC Radio Gloucestershire summariser Richard Martin made two really good points in commentary. Firstly, as we’ve known for a while, Gloucester CAN at times score quickly given the ball in the right areas, as was proven in the first half. Secondly, that having established a lead and not been chasing the game as has been the case on several occasions this season, the defence was capable of holding firm. Even with a man in the bin in the second half, the net score over the second 40 minutes was only 7-5 to Edinburgh.
Today we have the return fixture, and one which sees Edinburgh now as outsiders in the group having lost a home match. They are not out of contention completely however, and former prop Alasdair Dickinson is looking forward to coming back to a club where he spent four seasons between 2007 and 2011.
“I was a fairly fresh faced youngster at the time and my first impression was the size of the club and the volume of the crowd, both in numbers and noise” he told me. “I signed the season after we had played Gloucester in Europe and I wanted to improve my game. Collazo, Califano and Nieto were all class props so it was great for me to learn from them, and of course Nick Wood is still there. It was tough for me in the first season but you only become better by challenging yourself and by going to Gloucester from Edinbrugh that’s what I did.”
The crowd this afternoon is likely to be at least double that at Murrayfield last week, but while their league form has been mixed, there is no reason to think that with a sprinkling of full internationals, Edinburgh will be overawed.
“The boys will enjoy the atmosphere” Dickinson went on. “Kingsholm is one of the best grounds in England to play at. Every home ground has its advantages but rugby has a funny way of things turning when you least expect it.”
Connacht’s 16-14 win in Toulouse was no better example, and the sort of result that will give Edinburgh heart today, even if Dickinson concedes that their away form has to be rectified if they are to go any further than the pool stages.
“This is a huge game” he said. “Gloucester will want to put a marker down in the group and get their season on track before going back into the Premiership. Confidence is a big thing and we acknowledge there is a jump between league games and the Heineken Cup so we expect nothing less than a big physical battle.”
Pool 6 is now intruigingly poised. Munster’s 18-17 win over Perpignan yesterday could set up a terrific occasion at Kingsholm early in the new year, but it now looks as if Gloucester need to win all three of their remaining matches to have a chance of quarter final qualification, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s certainly something Alasdair Dickinson doesn’t do.
“I try not to look too far ahead into what might happen” he said. ” There is still everything to play for and no team is down and out so I’m just aiming to get a victory today.”