Buxton and Nieto back for Gloucester derby

Gloucester will welcome back flanker Peter Buxton and prop Carlos Nieto for tomorrow’s west country derby against Bath at the Rec (8pm).

Buxton will return to the blindside flank in place of Alasdair Strokosch and Nieto comes in at tight-head in two changes to Dean Ryan’s forward pack as Gloucester go on the hunt for their first ever away win on the banks of the Avon.

Strokosch, who was named as the Guinness Premiership’s player of the month for December, moves to the bench to accommodate Buxton, while Patrice Collazo comes into the squad in place of Christian Califano.

There are still no places for Gareth Delve (knee), Iain Balshaw (gashed knee) and Andy Titterrell (shoulder) as Gloucester prepare for their second successive local derby following their 27-0 win over Bristol last Saturday.

“We have given ourselves a great start in the Premiership and in Europe and over the next six or seven games we have to consolidate that,” Ryan told the club’s website.

“There is a deep understanding of what we want to achieve in the long-term and we are beginning to see the results of keeping the group together and a development process that is another 12 months further along.

“Both teams are in good form and at the top of the league. We appreciate the significance of this game but we have a series of important matches over the next month and this is another in that list – this is something we are all looking forward to.”

Nick Wood and Olivier Azam will pack down alongside Nieto in the front row, Marco Bortolami and Alex Brown will be the second row combination, while Buxton, Akapusi Qera and Luke Narraway form the back row.

Gloucester’s backline also remains the same which means Rory Lawson starts at number nine and will partner Ryan Lamb at half-back.

Mike Tindall has recovered from a calf injury that forced him off in the 12th minute last Saturday and will be alongside Anthony Allen against his former club.

Because of Balshaw’s knee injury, Willie Walker retains the number 15 shirt and will be partnered by wingers James Simpson-Daniel and Lesley Vainikolo, who is the Premiership’s leading scorer with seven tries.

On the bench, Jeremy Paul retains his place because of Titterrell’s injury, Collazo comes into the squad and will be joined by Will James and Strokosch.

Mike Prendergast, Chris Paterson and Leon Lloyd, who scored twice against Bristol, are the three-quarter options.

GLOUCESTER (v Bath, tomorrow 8pm):
Willie Walker; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway. Reps: Jeremy Paul, Patrice Collazo, Will James, Alasdair Strokosch, Mike Prendergast, Chris Paterson, Leon Lloyd.


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