Preview: Gloucester v Ospreys

Mike Phillips has replaced Justin Marshall in the Ospreys starting XV for their Heineken Cup game against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Friday.

The inclusion of Phillips at scrum-half is one of three changes made by head coach Lyn Jones the Ospreys look to build on their opening round victory over Bourgoin.

With Shane Williams ruled out through injury his place on the left wing is taken by Jonathan Vaughton. The only other change comes in the forward pack where Jonathan Thomas replaces Alun Wyn Jones in the number six jersey.

Lyn Jones will be looking for a better performance this week, as despite winning in the opening round, he was not totally happy with his sides showing.

“Whilst we were pleased to start the competition with a solid win last weekend against a highly motivated Bourgoin side we recognise that our accuracy and overall performance levels will have to improve this weekend,” Jones said.

“The players are looking forward to the challenge posed by Gloucester and there will be no complacency on Friday night.”

“Like us, Gloucester have ability throughout their side and there will be a lot of good rugby players on show this weekend. They have a dangerous back line and our defence will have to be right on top of its game if we are to succeed. This is one fixture where it is particularly true to say that the team who makes the least number of mistakes will come out on top.”

The return of Marco Bortolami in the second row is the only change in the Gloucester side. With Alex Brown ruled out through injury the Italian captain is able to take his place in the forward pack .Will James steps up to the bench as cover.

Despite Bortolami returning Peter Buxton will retain the captains arm band. Otherwise Gloucester are unchanged for what coach Dean Ryan has called an “enormous challenge”.

“This week will be an enormous challenge,” Ryan said.

“They have some great players and the group will be alive well beyond Friday. We’ll deal with this game and then see where we are but we need 16,000 people screaming us on because games are won and lost on small margins.

“We’ll need a bit of luck and we’ll need to play well – we cannot just throw flair at a game like this. We need to understand what they are trying to do and be intense about what we do. My experience is that every minute matters in this competition. The moment you lose track you risk a result that knocks you out.”

The Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Iain Balshaw 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Peter Buxton (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Christian Califano, 18 Will James, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Mike Prendergast, 21 Chris Paterson, 22 Olly Morgan.

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Jonathan Vaughton, 10 James Hook, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Filo Tiatia (c), 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jonathan Thomas, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Paul James, 18 Alun Wyn Jones, 19 Hale T-Pole, 20 Justin Marshall, 21 Shaun Connor, 22 Mark Taylor.

Date: Friday 16 November, 2007
Kick-off: 20:00
Venue: Kingsholm, Gloucester
Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)
Touch judges: Simon McDowell (Ireland), Mark Gargan (Ireland)
Television match official: Jean-Etienne Bernard (France)


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