Gloucester v Northampton Premiership Preview

Gloucester Rugby host Harlequins at Kingsholm

Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton Saints have named a team with four changes for this week’s match against Gloucester at Kingsholm.

The Saints head to Kingsholm with three changes in the pack and another at half-back.

Alex Corbisiero and Salesi Ma’afu come in for Alex Waller and Gareth Denman respectively, with Tom Wood swapping places with Sam Dickinson in the back row.

Wood, who marked his 100th first team appearance last week with a try, also captains the team. Meanwhile Kahn Fotuali’i replaces Lee Dickson at scrum-half in a direct swap.

Gloucester Rugby’s last four games in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day. Gloucester have won all five games played at Kingsholm in all tournaments in 2015.

Northampton Saints only Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat since round 7 came on a visit to Sale on 10th January.

The Saints six try bonus points in Premiership Rugby this season were all achieved in the first twelve rounds.

Northampton have won their last two encounters with Gloucester in Aviva Premiership Rugby, but both of those games were played at Franklin’s Gardens.

At Kingsholm, the Saints’ only win in their last four visits in the tournament was 24-19 in the opening round of the 2012/13 season.

Meanwhile Gloucester has recalled their quartet of international players who have been on Six Nations duty in recent weeks.

Returning to the starting line up are Billy Twelvetrees, Greig Laidlaw and Richard Hibbard in addition to Jonny May who was available for the Wasps fixture last week.

Also coming in to the starting line up to take on the Saints are full back Steve McColl and number eight Gareth Evans.

It’s a game of some significance for Gloucester who are looking to maintain and improve upon a good run of form in 2015, whilst it will also be a good marker of progress made since the first meeting between the two sides at Franklin’s Gardens on the opening day of the season.

Head Coach Laurie Fisher, talking to the local media this week, admitted it was good to have more selection options this week ahead of a tough game.

“We’ve got Richard, Greig and Billy back and we had Jonny back last week. Particularly with the long term injuries we have, it’s good to be able to call upon those guys.

“They’re wonderful professionals and have immediately got their heads into Gloucester Rugby and what’s required to get a performance on Saturday. They provide good leadership around the place, there’s been a good vibe and they’ve been integral to a good week’s training.

“We were disappointed with last week, but that’s a game that can’t be won and the game that can be won is the next one.

“They’re the defending champions and runaway leaders at the moment. It’s going to be tough whatever way you look at it and that requires 100% of your attention.

“But it really is about focusing on our game. I don’t think you can look too hard at Northampton, you know what they’ll bring. If you shut down one component of their game, they can switch to attacking you somewhere else. So we need to get our motivation, energy levels, execution and understanding of our game right.”

Match : Gloucester v Northampton Saints
Date : Saturday 7th March
Venue : Kingsholm,
Kick Off : 3.15pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee :
Greg Garner (77th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart and Ashley Rowden
TMO: David Grashoff.

Teams

Gloucester

15 Steve McColl, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Dan Murphy

Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Henry Purdy

Northampton Saints

15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Corbisiero

Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Ahsee Tuala

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