Individuals pulling in different directions are blunting Gloucester’s scrum power, believes Shaun Knight.
The tighthead prop has conceded that there is no point hiding from Gloucester’s set-piece struggles.
Instead, the 23-year-old has challenged the Cherry and Whites to find their scrummage unity – and fast.
Exeter Chiefs obliterated Nigel Davies’ side in the front-five in their 29-12 Kingsholm Premiership victory last Sunday.
Gloucester thought they had overcome their sticky league start, losing to Sale and Saracens, by seeing off Northampton and Newcastle. But the comprehensive defeat at the weekend leaves rugby director Davies’ men with two losses in three home games so far this season.
Knight explained: “We’ve got to tighten things up at the scrum: it’s got to be eight of you working.
“We’ve got to scrum as an eight. At the start of last year we were at home to Exeter, we took it to them. And now it just seems we have struggled so far in the set-piece.
“There’s no point hiding from it, it’s fact, we just need to sharpen it up.
“I don’t think we’re going out there and scrummaging as a unit, a lot of the time.
“When we get it right you can say we must be, but I don’t think we’re nearly as tight as we need to be as a unit right now. That’s not just scrums, that’s our driving play as well, it’s all of it.
“We should deal with it better, we’ve got to sharpen and tighten things up.
“It’s not the end of the world, even though it does feel like it, and we’ve got a different competition to focus on.
“We shouldn’t be losing to Exeter at home, but we’ve got to get over that quickly and focus again on Perpignan.”
Knight knows Gloucester were well-beaten by Rob Baxter’s side, and admits he found the greatest frustration in the Cherry and Whites’ lack of bite.
He said the Kingsholm men could forgive a battling defeat, but not one where they were completely overwhelmed.
Knight continued: “Exeter brought it to us, we didn’t take one bit to them, and that’s basically why they deserved to win.
“You can half accept it if you go at a team, put pressure on them, play reasonably well but lose – but that’s by no means what happened at all.
“We were poor and we didn’t deserve anything. We couldn’t keep the ball, they squeezed us and they deserved everything they got.
“After a game like that where we weren’t at the races, I think maybe a change of focus will do us good.
“Against a side like Perpignan you can’t afford to be anything other than on top form.
“The league pressure is off for a couple of weeks, and we’ve got to focus on a fast start in the Heineken.
“League pressure is replaced by the huge intensity of the Heineken though, and we’ve got to get our tight game back together, otherwise we’ll be in trouble.”