Feel good factor helping Gloucester towards the play-offs
AFTER 16 seasons with Gloucester, you would have thought Andy Hazell had seen just about everything on the pitch.
But the experienced 34-year-old admits he's never been involved in a finish quite like the 29-23 win against Worcester Warriors - which he hopes could provide the luck they need to stay in the Aviva Premiership top four.
With the seconds ticking away Gloucester wing Jonny May was tripped by Warriors full-back Errie Claassens, earning the Worcester man a red card and after an anxious wait a penalty try for the Cherry & Whites.
Gloucester went from trailing by a point to winning the game and moved back into the Aviva Premiership play-off places, which Hazell believes could be a massive psychological boost going into the business end of the season.
"It was pretty unique," admits Hazell, who was playing his first Premiership game since September following his 14-week ban for punching Mont-de-Marsan prop Sebastien Ormaechea during an Amlin Challenge Cup game.
"I've never been involved in anything like that, but to be honest we'll take it.
"Jonny said straight away he thought it was a trip and he would probably have scored but you never know.
"I would never say we have been the luckiest team in the world but we try to make our own luck.
"If you look at their try it was an intercept from a defensive error when we stepped out of the line and although Worcester played some good rugby I thought we deserved to win.
"It is important to get in that top four because once you're in there you know your destiny is in your hands, otherwise you're relying on other people's results and sometimes they go for and sometimes they don't."
Born and bred in the city, Hazell is well aware of the demands placed upon the team's players by their fervent fans but believes despite the pressure Gloucester's stars are enjoying their rugby.
"We had a really good pre-season and we've gone back to basics under Nigel Davies," he said.
"The boys are enjoying playing rugby and sometimes things just click into place as a group.
"Gloucester is a good place to be right now and everyone has a smile on their face and that's massive for me.
"When you're born and bred somewhere there's never anything quite like that but the guys who have come in have really stepped up to the plate and Nigel has made sure they know the core values of Gloucester.
"And it's up to the senior players like myself to take responsibility and make sure that message gets across because Gloucester is a massive rugby town.
"But the boys have been exceptional and that's a credit to Nigel and themselves."
And with the race for the Aviva Premiership top four set to be closer than ever this year, Hazell believes that feel good factor could be vital for Gloucester's chances of a successful campaign, adding: "The league now is so tight and there are only a couple of points between each team.
"I think it's definitely the tightest league I have ever played in and if you're not 100 per cent on your metal you're going to lose."
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