Ackermann keeping calm despite victory

NEW Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann refused to get carried away after an opening-day 28-21 victory over Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs.

An injury-time try by new signing Jason Woodward settled a remarkable West Country derby at Kingsholm on Friday night, leaving Exeter with only a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.

‘We couldn’t have asked for a better start and I am grateful for that,’ said South African Ackermann, the former head coach of the Lions Super Rugby side.

‘I am so pleased with the character the guys showed and the effort that went into the game.

‘We will enjoy tonight’s victory, but the reality is it is only week one and we definitely can’t get carried away about it. Teams will challenge you every week. You cannot take anything for granted.’

He added: ‘We hung in there, even when we didn’t have a lot of territory and possession, and our defence was good.

Our set piece was good. We only conceded two scrum penalties, and our line-out was good, and some individuals had great performances.

‘There were opportunities we didn’t use, but in general I am very pleased.’

YELLOW CARD: Gloucester’s Jason Woodward is tackled illegally by Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson, leading to a sin-binning
Picture: David Davies / PA Wire
Ackermann was also full of praise for the Kingsholm crowd and said: ‘The supporters were tremendous.’

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter was philosophical in defeat and praised Gloucester for the way they kept going.
‘As we found out a lot ourselves last season, if you stay in the fight and have a go, as Gloucester did today, some things will end up going your way, and you have got to give Gloucester great credit,’ he said.

‘I think we were starting to exert quite a lot of pressure on them, and it looked like we were starting to get what we wanted out of the game, but fair play to Gloucester, they went until the end, and if you do that you can create opportunities, and they have come up with the decisive score.

‘I think our skipper, Jack Yeandle, summed it up in the changing room, that if you get that kind of pressure and get that close to your opponents’ line, you have got to take the opportunities we created in the match and hammer them home.

‘To be fair to Gloucester, when they got close to our line, they were more efficient than we were. Have they had a little bit of luck and bounce of the ball? Potentially, but when you are going for it and decide to keep attacking, sometimes you get that, and ultimately that is what has happened tonight.’

The officials took an age to give debatable tries to Jeremy Thrush in the first half and Ben Morgan in the second, and Baxter said he needed to view both incidents again in the cold light of day.

‘I need to look at better quality pictures than what we get on our laptops, but there is potentially reasons to award both tries, and to not award either,’ said Baxter. ‘Just for my own clarity of mind, I would like someone to discuss with me the reasoning behind awarding both tries.

‘The first one looks like a guy who has been tackled and is on the floor, and then reaches through the ruck, and in the second one the ball ricochets into a Gloucester player and was there enough clarity there over what happened for that to be a try?

‘We have had decisions like that go for us in the past. It didn’t happen for us tonight, but it may on another occasion.’

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.