Gloucester Rugby v Sale Sharks Preview

Gloucester Rugby need just one point to guarantee their participation in this season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals.

Gloucester’s only win in their last five games was 27-15 at home to Northampton on 19 April. Gloucester remain the only side with a perfect 100% winning record at home in the Premiership this season.

Sale Sharks have won just one of their last four matches: 36-31 at home to Gloucester on 8 April. The Sharks’ have not won away from home in the Premiership anywhere except Headingley since they visited Worcester in January 2009.

The last 16 clashes between the two teams have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Sharks have not won at Kingsholm since 26 August 2000.

Welsh international fly half Nicky Robinson returns at fly half for Gloucester Rugby after he was forced to leave the field during the recent home win over Northampton Saints with a dead leg but is back and raring to go as Gloucester sign off at Kingsholm for 2010-11.

The only other change to the back line that started at Saracens the weekend before last sees Rory Lawson return to partner Robinson at half back.

There are more changes to the pack where only Scott Lawson and Alasdair Strokosch retain their places in the starting line up.

Meanwhile, there is a welcome return to the matchday squad for Lesley Vainikolo for the first time since injuring a shoulder at Leeds on January 30th.

Gloucester enter the weekend in third place in the table and know that a single point will secure a playoff berth with a trip to either Leicester Tigers or Saracens looming.

The Sharks defeated Gloucester 36-31 at Edgeley Park a few weeks ago and Head Coach Bryan Redpath told the media this week that his side will be looking to finish the Aviva Premiership season unbeaten at Kingsholm.

“It’s huge for the players. We’ve said all season that we’re going to try and make Kingsholm a really tough place to come to and compete against us and we’ve done that so far.”

“We were frustrated by the game up there and they showed some great character and fighting qualities against us. We came away and we lost the game.”

“We owe it to our fans to finish the season well. There will be a few disappointed boys not involved at the weekend for various reasons and the ones that take the pitch will want to do a job for them as well.”

“We have everything to gain and Sale have nothing to lose. They’re playing for pride and that makes them a dangerous animal.”

The Sale Sharks starting fifteen shows six changes from the side that took the field against Exeter Chiefs on Good Friday.

Looking ahead to the game, the Sharks’ Executive Director of Sport Steve Diamond said, “A number of the guys stepping out at Gloucester are leaving, but I’m looking for a professional display.

“For anyone going down to Kingsholm on a warm Spring day – as it looks like it’s going to be – if you play a competitive game, you get the respect and applause of what will be a sell-out crowd. “

“If you go down with your tail between your legs, you will get a good hiding and no respect and that will bear on the mind of the players that are leaving.”

Match : Gloucester Rugby v Sale Sharks
Date : Saturday 7 May
Venue : Kingsholm
Kick off : 3pm
Referee: David Rose (88th Premiership game)


Gloucester Rugby:Tom Voyce; Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, James Simpson-Daniel; Nicky Robinson, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Scott Lawson, Paul Doran-Jones; Dave Attwood, Alex Brown; Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway (capt)

Replacements:Darren Dawidiuk, Alasdair Dickinson, Rupert Harden, Jim Hamilton, Brett Deacon, Dave Lewis, Tim Taylor, Lesley Vainikolo

Sharks: 1

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