Johan Ackermann targets Gloucester improvement in Premiership play-offs
Last Updated: 28/04/19 7:03pm
Gloucester boss Johan Ackermann will target an improvement from his side after they secured a Gallagher Premiership play-off place for the first time since 2011.
Despite coming unstuck 27-20 against Worcester at Sixways, a losing bonus point was enough for Gloucester to secure a top-four finish and join Exeter and Saracens in next month's semi-finals.
They are likely to face an away clash against Saracens in the play-offs, and head coach Ackermann is under no illusions about how big a task it will be.
"Like I have constantly said when people started to get carried away after we had a good run, we are still not there," he said.
"There are times when we don't play as well, and today just showed it. Saracens are the best side in this competition, in my view. To be competitive in Europe and competitive in the Premiership, there must be something special about them.
"And if we don't want to be just a number, we have to be better than what we are.
"But then again, I am tremendously proud of the progress the players have shown and the character we've shown in games that we were down and out in and got the win.
"It's growth in the right way, and in play-offs, there are no bonus points, nothing. It's on the day. We finished seventh last season, and if you keep moving up, then it is a good direction."
Danny Cipriani was heavily involved in creating first-half tries for wing Henry Purdy and scrum-half Willi Heinz before leaving the field after 57 minutes.
The cause of his injury, a hand issue, isn't one that Ackermann appears to be overly worried about, though.
"He is fine. He has just got a sore finger," noted Gloucester's head coach post-match.
"It was sore after the Bath game (two weeks ago), and for prevention, they taped it up. It is not a break, it is just sore."
Worcester secured Premiership safety with the win, moving 11 points clear of bottom club Newcastle with two games left.
The Falcons will be relegated if they do not beat Gloucester next weekend, or if Leicester collect two points or more against Harlequins on Friday.
"I felt it was important that we put it (survival) to bed today. It was a fantastic performance, and a brilliant defensive performance as well," said Worcester rugby director Alan Solomons.
"Francois (Hougaard) was unbelievable. You are reluctant to single people out, but he was absolutely exceptional in defence.
"It was absolutely vital we kept things in our own hands. The players would have known exactly the situation, and I just felt if we played really well today and were emotionally there, the rest would hang together.
"The competition is an incredibly tight one. All the teams have got good players who are well prepared and well coached, and on any given day, any team can beat anyone else.
"When we perform well, we give ourselves every prospect of the result."