Billy Meakes branded Saturday’s clash with Wasps as the ultimate test of Gloucester’s tightening defence and he was delighted to clip the high-flyers’ wings.
Wasps arrived at Kingsholm as the form team in England and with a glittering array of stars but they were strangled of possession or pressured into mistakes as the Cherry and Whites edged to a gutsy win.
The front-five laid the foundations allowing the Gloucester back-row and back-line to get on top, constantly hounding their counterparts or on the front foot in attack.
Meakes said: “They’ve scored over 100 points in their last couple of games, we knew they had threats all over the park.
“But the boys up front in the front five and then the back-row really dealt with their firepower up front and made the job a hell of a lot easier for us boys out the backs.
“I had a few opportunities with ball in hand, it was difficult at times and there was probably a pass I could have given or a kick I could have put in behind but we had clear messages about keeping and retaining the ball, building through the phases and taking our opportunities.
But it was extremely pleasing, probably the best I’ve felt after a game but on the flip side the worst I’ve felt at the full time whistle (in terms of fitness).”
The Cherry and Whites led 10-3 at the break but conceded a try virtually straight after the restart with Christian Wade beating three defenders in spectacular style.
Other than that the defence was watertight and Meakes had nothing but praise for his teammates’ relentless effort.
He added: “It’s never ideal losing four boys like that, especially early on and it did disrupt but the boys that came on did a hell of a job.
“There were a few boys out of position, Greig stepping up at 10, Trinny in his 100th game playing on the wing – he wasn’t used to doing that amount of running – and then Cal coming on at nine and organising the forwards.
“But our defence is growing week on week and I’m sure Jonny Bell will be delighted with that one.
“It wasn’t ideal to start the second half in that way (conceding a try). We spoke about their attacking threats, they’ve scored a lot of points this season and to concede one try in the end is something we would take.
“We just said to forget it and to go back to the kick-off, Greig calmed the boys down, it was cool heads and about getting onto the next job.”