Positives for Easterby after second-half Scarlets fightback
By Robert Lloyd
SIMON Easterby believes the Scarlets' second-half showing in Kingsholm has provided plenty of positives going into next weekend's RaboDirect Pro12 opener against Leinster.
Despite a 31-17 defeat, there was plenty to encourage Easterby – particularly the way his side dominated the second period after a woefully off-colour opening 40 minutes.
The Scarlets were fortunate to be only trailing 14-0 at the break, but were a side transformed after the restart, claiming three tries – a penalty try, a slick blindside lineout move that saw hooker Ken Owens cross and a late consolation for replacement scrum-half Rhodri Williams.
"I don't think I needed to say much at half-time. It was pretty clear where we were falling short. If you can't keep hold of the ball and your discipline is poor, it is always going to be difficult," said Easterby.
"We played with a bit more accuracy in the second half; we got hold of possession and kept hold of it and we were able to put them under a lot of pressure.
"Our set piece was good throughout and that was a real positive for us.
"At 24-12 we were in the ascendancy, they had two in the sin-bin, but we lost our composure a bit, tapped and went and they turned us over and went the length of the field and scored. That was disappointing because we had been on top for a long time.
"But a lot of players needed a hit out; a lot of players hadn't played for a long time. I would rather us get a few things wrong in pre-season and look to put them right for Leinster next week."
One of those players making his comeback from injury was Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland, who enjoyed a lively 40 minutes after coming on for Steve Shingler at the break.
"Rhys looked very sharp," added Easterby. "It helped that we were able to keep hold of the ball and go through the phases, but the big thing was that he took the ball to the line, attacked the gainline and that allowed us to get some front foot ball."
The Scarlets did pick up an injury concern with centre Gareth Maule leaving the ground on crutches after picking up a knee injury midway through the first half.
As for Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies he believes the match against his former side was an ideal test ahead of an Aviva Premiership clash with Sale next week.
"I thought it was a really good game, we controlled the first half really well. In fairness the Scarlets came back into it in the second half and gave us a run for our money," he said.
"They are a really competent team; they have got a good pack of forwards now and a lot of pace in their backline. It was a really good contest.
"There was a lot on the match, a lot of bragging rights at stake and I was keen for us to get that result."