Preview: Gloucester v Bath

Date published: September 30 2016

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Greig_Laidlaw_Gloucester

Greig Laidlaw is back to skipper Gloucester in Saturday's Premiership derby game against Bath at Kingsholm.

James Hook will make his first start of the season at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.

The Cherry and Whites make four changes from the side that started against Newcastle Falcons last Saturday.

The return of Laidlaw, Hook and Twelvetrees are the three changes in the backs. Hook is in for the injured Tom Marshall, and Twelvetrees comes in for Matt Scott.  Up front, Paddy McAllister replaces Yann Thomas at loosehead prop.

Matt Kvesic is named amongst the replacements having missed out against Newcastle due to a nasty cut to the face picked up at Sale and there is a first appearance in the matchday 23 this season for David Halaifonua.

Both teams are coming into the game off the back of a defeat and will be looking to get back to winning ways in a fixture that is one of the most keenly anticipated in the Aviva Premiership calendar.

Head coach Laurie Fisher was on media duties this week and was clear on where Gloucester need to make improvements from last week.

"I think fundamentally that the shape of our game is sound. But, if you look at last weekend, we need to convert A Zone opportunities into points. That's been one of the big work-ons for us this week," he said.

"We don't need to gee up the boys for the Bath game, we don't need to gee them for any game. But certainly the Bath derby is massive in everybody's mindset whether you're a Gloucester supporter or a Gloucester player.

"It's very high on the list of super-important things this year and the guys are really looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, second-row Elliott Stooke will make his first start for Bath against his former club.

Stooke is joined in the engine room by Charlie Ewels, with another former Gloucester man, Dave Attwood, shifting to the bench.

Tom Dunn starts at hooker, with Nathan Catt and Henry Thomas packing down either side of him. Matt Garvey, handed the co-captain’s armband alongside George Ford, starts in the back-row with Tom Ellis on the openside and Leroy Houston at number eight.

Ford and Kahn Fotuali’i will look to continue their impressive partnership, with a midfield combination of Matt Banahan and Aled Brew selected. The back three is the same as against Leicester – Tom Homer at full-back, and Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni (who has scored four tries in four appearances so far this season) providing the threat out wide on the wings.

Todd Blackadder, director of rugby, said: “We’re obviously really keen to bounce back from last weekend, and what better what to do that than with a West Country derby? We’ve rotated the squad slightly, with Elliott and Tom starting, and we know they will both be really eager to put in strong performances, especially Elliott against his former club.

“The co-captaincy between George and Matt has been happening on the field already this season and is a partnership that is working well for us. They both have great leadership qualities, and obviously each have their own areas of expertise – Matt with the forwards and technical aspects, and George with running the game and the wider look at things.”

Form: Gloucester have won just one of their last five Premiership Rugby fixtures: 26-13 at Sale in Round 3, whilst their solitary victory at Kingsholm in the last six matches in all tournaments was against Exeter on April 15. Bath’s winning start to the new Premiership Rugby campaign came to halt at Leicester on Sunday. Bath’s only victory in their last four away games was on their visit to Franklin’s Gardens in Round 1. Bath have lost just one of their last seven encounters with Gloucester in Premiership Rugby: 11-15 at the Recreation Ground in Round 11 last season. Bath have won on their last four visits to Kingsholm in major competitions.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (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 Matt Kvesic, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Matt Scott, 23 David Halaifonua

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Aled Brew, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford (cc), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Tom Ellis, 6 Matt Garvey (cc), 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 Jeff Williams

Date: Saturday, October 1
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Roy Maybank
TMO: David Grashoff

COMMENTS