Preview: Gloucester v Newcastle Falcons

Date published: September 23 2016

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Mariano Galarza and Ross Moriarty are both back from injury as Gloucester entertain the Newcastle Falcons at Kingsholm in the Premiership.

Willi Heinz will skipper the side from scrum-half. The Cherry and Whites made five changes to the side that started the impressive victory at Sale Sharks last Friday evening.

Heinz, who enjoyed an excellent pre-season, gets an opportunity at scrum-half, with Greig Laidlaw named amongst the replacements, in the only change to the back line.

In the pack, Paddy McAllister gets the nod at loose-head prop and Galarza and Moriarty return in place of Joe Latta and Lewis Ludlow respectively. The final change sees Jacob Rowan come in to the back row for Matt Kvesic, who gets the week off after suffering a large facial cut at Sale.

The visiting Falcons have experienced a similar start to the season as Gloucester so far – victory over Sale and a painful narrow defeat to Leicester featuring in their results.

Backs Coach Tim Taylor was on media duty this week and acknowledged that the Falcons are a dangerous proposition.

"They’re a very good side. They had a good win against Sale first up, travelled to Bath who played some great rugby and then, last week, showed what they can do against Leicester and felt they could have won that game.

"They’re very physical, they have good width in their attack and have a dangerous back three which we’ll need to stay on top of."

And he admitted that the win at Sale last week was reward for improving displays.

"It’s been building for a while. We started really well against Leicester and showed some great attack. We showed some great intent against Worcester, we just needed to build on our game management and our skill execution.

"We’ve been moving in the right direction for a long time and it was great to put a win on the board at Sale."

Meanwhile Newcastle Falcons have made one change to their side for Saturday’s Premiership trip to Gloucester, Alex Tait replacing Vereniki Goneva on the right wing.

Goneva misses out with a hamstring injury as Newcastle travel to Kingsholm with an otherwise unchanged side from the one which faced Leicester Tigers last weekend.

Director of rugby Dean Richards said: "Without a doubt, we see this as a huge opportunity. Gloucester are playing well, but a little bit like ourselves they have found it difficult at times to convert pressure into points. It is one of those occasions whereby we feel we are in with a good shout, but we need to deliver a performance.

"There are a few of these fantastic rugby environments around in the Premiership, and Gloucester is definitely one of them. You get the passionate support, they make a lot of noise and if you can’t get up for it in that kind of atmosphere then you never will. You walk out onto that pitch and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. You have got to front up to it, take it head on, and if you don’t then it can end up being a hard day at the office."

Having lost by a single point at home to Leicester Tigers last weekend, Richards said: "When you have your chances you’ve got to take them. We had enough chances to win the game but we weren’t accurate enough, and that is the most frustrating thing. The final kick was the one which would have sealed it but we had missed two prior to that, plus countless opportunities near their try-line which we needed to nail. Forget that last kick, it was about what had happened earlier.

"The performance was a big improvement on Bath the week before, the boys felt we played reasonably well and we should have won. Taking into account an unbeaten pre-season and the fact we had a decent win over Sale Sharks in our first league game, provided we turn in the kind of performance we know we are capable of we will be in a good position."

Form: Gloucester Rugby beat Sale 26-13 at AJ Bell Stadium on Friday to achieve their first victory since beating the same opponents at the same venue in April. Gloucester have won only one of their last five matches at Kingsholm in all tournaments: 16-9 over Exeter in Premiership Rugby on 15th April. Newcastle Falcons’ only win in their last five Premiership Rugby fixtures was 19-17 at home to Sale on the opening day of the new season. The Tynesiders have not won away from home in Premiership Rugby since defeating London Welsh 23-3 at Kassam Stadium in October 2014. Gloucester’s only reversal in their last six encounters with Falcons in Premiership Rugby was 10-20 at Kingston Park in November 2014. Newcastle have won only twice at Kingsholm in the tournament, in April 1998 and April 2012.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz(c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister 
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 James Hook, 23 Billy Twelvetrees

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Will Witty, 20 Daniel Temm, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Belisario Agulla

Date: Saturday, September 24
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Dean Richards 
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury

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