They have succumbed to a crushing defeat at Harlequins but Gloucester-Hartpury captain Natasha Hunt believes her side can secure a semi-final spot in the Tyrrells Premier 15s.
Gloucester-Hartpury were outmuscled by a physical Quins side at Twickenham Stoop, going down 39-12 to last season’s runners-up who inflicted a first league defeat on Hunt’s team this term.
But Hunt, whose players narrowly missed out on a play-off place last season, says they are acutely aware of the issues they must address if they are to go one better this year.
“We know what we need to do, and if anything it’s given us a springboard of what we need to focus on and fix going forward,” said the England World Cup winner, speaking at Kingsholm as part of the RFU’s CBRE All Schools programme, supported by Canterbury.
“We came up against it against a really strong, dominant Harlequins side, which was quite a difficult one to swallow because we were in the game up until half-time.
“They have such sheer power in some of their athletes and they’ve got a world-class pack, and they used that to their full advantage which we just couldn’t compete with at the time.
“That’s just the nature of it sometimes, and if you’re going backwards constantly you can’t compete.
“We just need to front up a bit I think – we obviously need to keep people in the tackle.
“We just need to get off the line and chop their big girls and stop them running, and that’s as simple as it was on the day.”
Hunt’s team came out of the blocks quickly this season, brushing aside Firwood Waterloo 48-7 and then last term’s semi-finalists Wasps 22-19 in Round Two of the new campaign.
And the Gloucester-Hartpury skipper brings both considerable experience and wisdom to her side, receiving 41 caps for the Red Roses since her debut in 2010 and lifting the World Cup trophy in France in 2014.
But her immediate attention remains firmly focussed on domestic matters, and she says that only a play-off spot will do for her team this season.
“There’s huge belief throughout the squad – we keep talking about the play-offs and it’s not a cliché or anything,” she added.
“We’re not hiding from the fact that that’s our aim this year - I think that’s huge and you need to have it out there as a goal and an aspiration.
“Everyone needs to have the buy-in which the girls definitely do have, so it’s good and it’s a good team to be part of.”
PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR – CBRE All Schools, supported by Canterbury, is one of the RFU’s key legacy programmes, set up to increase the number of state secondary schools playing rugby union in England. Visit www.englandrugby.com/allschools to find out more.