Gloucester v Newcastle Premiership Preview

Newcastle Falcons Director of Rugby Dean Richards has made four changes to his team to face Gloucester on Saturday in the Aviva Premiership.

After scoring arguably the try of the match in England Under-20s’ 67-7 victory over Wales Under-20s in the Six Nations at Kingston Park a fortnight ago, Zach Kibirige starts on the wing.

The Middlesbrough-born teenager replaces Lee Smith, who drops to the bench while former Munster man Danny Barnes returns at centre. Meanwhile, Oliver Tomaszczyk comes in for the suspended Kieran Brookes at tighthead with Chris York rounding off the changes at No.8, replacing the injured Mark Wilson.

“Gloucester are a side that like to throw the ball around, and you only have to watch them throughout the season to see that they play with a lot of ambition which is nice to see,” said Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards.

“I used to love playing at Kingsholm and if you haven’t played down there then I think you’ve missed out on something special. “It’s one of those places where you never forget once you’ve played there and it has a lasting memory on you,” added Richards.

Gloucester Rugby’s solo victory in their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby matches was 25-20 at home to Harlequins in round 15. Gloucester have won their last two games at Kingsholm in all tournaments, whilst another victory will give them their best run at the famous venue in twelve months.

Newcastle Falcons have lost their last ten Premiership matches, another defeat would equal their worst ever run in the competition, set in 2011.

The Falcons’ two away victories this season were against Sale in round 2 and at Worcester in round 5. Gloucester have already beaten Newcastle twice this season, once in the Premiership at Kingston Park and once at Kingsholm in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The Falcons have won only once at Gloucester since 1998: 29-20 in this equivalent fixture 2011/12 season (a round 20 encounter in April).

Meanwhile Gloucester have named Mike Tindall as captain of a team that shows only two changes from the side that started in the last game at Kingsholm, the 25-20 victory over Harlequins.

Those changes see Shaun Knight start at tight head prop in place of Rupert Harden, while Martyn Thomas takes over from Shane Monahan on the left wing.

Director of Rugby Nigel Davies resists the temptation to throw his returning England players straight back into the thick of the action. Ben Morgan and Jonny May are named amongst the replacements, however, with Billy Twelvetrees given extra time to get over an infected knee.

Talking to the local media this week, Forwards Coach Andrew Stanley feels that the break from action came at a good time for Gloucester.

“The boys were in need of a rest. They took a few days to recharge their batteries and recover physically and mentally.”

“But last week we had a really good week in training, a tough week, and have carried that over into this week as we’ve built up nicely for Newcastle. We’re looking forward to Saturday.”

“We’ve watched Newcastle a lot over the past few weeks. We’ve obviously played them twice already this season and they’re a side that is constantly improving.”

“Their performances against Northampton and Leicester show how far they’ve come as they’ve got used to playing them in the Premiership again. We’re certainly not taking them lightly, they’ll offer us stern opposition.”

Match : Gloucester Rugby v Newcastle Falcons
Date : Saturday 22nd March
Venue : Kingsholm,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N/A
Match Officials
Wayne Barnes (134th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Roger Bail

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