Preview: Gloucester v Bath

Date published: December 19 2014

Gloucester welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting XV for Saturday’s clash with Bath Rugby at Kingsholm.

The international trio were rested for the 32-16 win over Zebre in Europe last weekend but return to take on Bath.

Tongan international David Halaifonua has been training with the team for the past couple of weeks but, not currently registered for Europe, is named in the matchday 23 for the first time.

Elsewhere, the starting line-up has a settled look about it although Gareth Evans and Ben Morgan miss out due to injury.

Director of Rugby David Humphreys, speaking to the local media this week, admitted that he’s looking forward to his first experience of Gloucester/Bath derby action.

“Since I’ve arrived nearly every Gloucester supporter I’ve met, the one game they’ve talked about is Bath,” he said.

“So, I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited to see Kingsholm in full voice, it’s fully sold out. It’s going to be a good occasion.

“But we have spoken about it this week as being just another game, it’s game 10 of 22 across the course of the season. In this league, every game is important and it’s a big run for us coming into the Christmas period.

“We’ve got a little bit of momentum, based on the last three games we’ve actually played quite well. We showed a lot of character against London Irish to grind out the win, and did well for 60 minutes out in Italy.

“But Bath’s going to be a huge test. They’ve been outstanding this season, sitting second in the table so, for us, it’s another chance for us to measure ourselves against one of the top teams in the country.”
Meanwhile, Stuart Hooper and Kyle Eastmond both return to Bath’s starting line-up for this West Country derby.

Captain Hooper joins Dominic Day in the engine room, behind the powerful front row of Paul James, Ross Batty and David Wilson.

The dynamic back row of Alafoti Fa’osiliva, Francois Louw and Leroy Houston continue. George Ford and Chris Cook are named once again in the half-backs to orchestrate proceedings.

Eastmond comes back into the inside centre berth, renewing his exciting midfield partnership with Jonathan Joseph.

The threatening back three remains the same as last week, with Semesa Rokoduguni and hat-trick hero Matt Banahan on the wings and Anthony Watson at full-back.

Form: After their flying start to the season came undone with Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats at Northampton Saints and Wasps – and consecutive losses to kick off their European campaign – Bath are back on track. Their two away victories in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season have come at Sale and at London Irish and Mike Ford’s side have won on each of their last two visits to Kingsholm. Gloucester, however, are not in such bad form themselves, winning their last three matches in all competitions.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Steve McColl, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Purdy, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 James Hudson, 20 Elliott Stooke, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 David Halaifonua

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Alafoti Fa’osiliva, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Micky Young, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Sam Burgess.

Date: Saturday, December 20
Kickoff: 17:30 GMT
Venue: Kingsholm
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Roy Maybank
TMO: Geoff Warren