Gloucester have been boosted by the return of internationals Jim Hamilton and Scott Lawson for their West Country derby against Bath.
Gloucester have been boosted by the return of internationals Jim Hamilton and Scott Lawson for their West Country derby against Bath on Sunday.
The Scottish duo have been on Six Nations duty but are back with the Cherry and Whites for what promises to be an intriguing clash.
Lawson and Hamilton slot straight back into the starting line-up at hooker and lock respectively in the only changes to the side that beat Northampton last time out.
While a derby clash of this nature needs no extra spice, the fact that Gloucester are sitting in seventh spot on the Aviva Premiership table just four points clear of eighth placed Bath certainly adds to the occasion.
Having won three out of their last four matches, Bryan Redpath's men enter the game with momentum behind them but they know they'll need to be at their best to beat Bath.
“It's obviously a pivotal fixture for both clubs and it's about building that momentum, getting on a winning run and building confidence,” forwards coach Carl Hogg told the club's official website.
“We've taken a good look at Bath and they appear to have gone back to a base game. They've built an efficient drive and their scrum is coming on. It's going to be a big challenge down there.
“These are always special fixtures, quite unique. We talk a lot about emotional factors but, for us, it's about playing for Gloucester, the jersey, the team. That's paramount.
“If we deliver passion and pride and get some accuracy into what we do, then we should be there and thereabouts.”
Bath too enter the game on the back of a win, having beaten Newcastle last weekend. Sir Ian McGeechan has made two changes to the side that downed the Falcons.
In the front row, Nathan Catt comes in at loosehed prop at the expense of David Flatman while a groin injury rules out lock David Atwood who is replaced by Stuart Hooper.
On the bench, Ross Batty, Charlie Beech, Duncan Bell and Jack Cuthbert all return to the fray.
Form: Bath Rugby have won their last four matches in all competitions since their 22-24 loss at Montpellier in the European Cup on 14 January. Bath have won their last four home games at The Rec since Leinster won there on 11 December. Gloucester Rugby's only defeat in their last four matches was 15-23 at London Irish in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 4 February. Gloucester have won just one away game in Aviva Premiership Rugby in the last twelve months: 24-19 at Exeter Chiefs on 5 November. Bath's solitary victory in their last eight encounters with Gloucester was 24-8 at The Rec on 27 December 2009.
Bath: 15 Sam Vesty, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Duncan Bell, 19 Guy Mercer, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Matt Carraro, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Matt Cox 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton (c), 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Peter Buxton, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Tom Voyce
Date: Saturday, February 18
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Geoff Warren