How Ackermann's Gloucester stopped defending champs
PREMIERSHIP STATS ROUND ONE: The cynics who suggested successful South African coach Johan Ackermann could not convert his Super Rugby form into Premiership success were left with egg on their faces.
The champions, Exeter Chiefs, travelled to Kingsholm at the weekend to begin the defence of their crown.
Rather than make it 18 straight wins in the league - to break a record they share with Leicester Tigers - it was the Cherry & Whites who grabbed the win (28-21).
Jason Woodward went over in added time to snatch the victory, and a secure bonus point in Ackermann's first game in charge.
The question as to how the dramatic turnaround was achieved by a team caught in a season-long struggle to stay away from the promotion-relegation zone, can be found in the Premiership's Round One statistics.
They say a team's character is defined in how they defend and the tackle count tells a story all of its own.
Gloucester have two players in the top three of the competition's opening round tackle count - Lewis Ludlow and Tom Savage. Between them they made an astonishing 47 tackles - at least one every two minutes.
Throw in Fraser Balmain and Jacob Rowan (with 15 tackles each), inside the top 15 and Richard Hibbard (13 tackles - inside the top 20) and you begin to get an idea of just how much 'character' Gloucester showed.
On top of that they also outscored the defending champions by four tries to three.
As Ackermann said, it is a long season and they have achieved nothing yet, but they have bagged a crucial win and the turnaround was dramatic!
Source: OPTA rugby rankings