London Welsh hooker Neil Briggs has done his homework on Gloucester Rugby but admits that knowing where their strengths lie will not make the Exiles’ mission of recording a third consecutive Aviva Premiership victory any easier.corded successive Aviva Premiership Rugby victories over Exeter and Sale.
Briggs has started all four of Welsh’s games this season and lasted the full 80 minutes in his side’s maiden league win against Exeter Chiefs.
That 25-24 victory at the Kassam Stadium was followed by a 29-19 win over Sale Sharks with both results being built on an abrasive effort up front, underlined by the fact that four of the five tries scored in those games have come through the forwards.
But Briggs believes that on Saturday Welsh will not only be fighting against a robust forward pack but one spurred on by a rugby tradition which rivals their own and backed up by a three-quarter line who can slice a team to ribbons at the flick of a switch.
“We know it’s going to be tough, they are a very passionate rugby club with a lot of history and they always have a really big set of forwards,” said Briggs, who is a former Sale captain.
“But if you look at them now they are playing expansive rugby in the backs with Freddie Burns at ten and James Simpson-Daniel scoring tries on his own from 50 metres.
“We know how they want to play but we can’t focus too much on them we need to focus on what we’re doing and try and put the pressure on Gloucester.
“We understand it’s going to be tough and physical and if you look at the pack as a whole we know it’s going to be a big challenge.
“They have Nick Wood who has been around for a while and he’s known as one of the top scrummagers in the Premiership as a loosehead so that will be a test for us.
“They also have Jim Hamilton in the second row who is a big guy and big on the set-piece and lineout and a big talisman for them, I think.
“But if you look at the pack as a whole they’ve got guys who complement each other and it will be a big test for us.”
Welsh beat Gloucester in pre-season 24-23 and second row Tom Savage is well aware of the threat their hosts will pose but insists he’s looking forward to the new boys’ challenge.
“It will be a completely new experience for us, they are a new team, in a new stadium and they have been going really well,” said Savage.
“Credit to Welsh, they’ve come up and haven’t been a walk over.
“They’ve been playing really good rugby and scoring tries, but we are ready for the battle.”
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts (4th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle, Kevin Stewart.
(Kassam Stadium, 3 pm)