Preview: Gloucester v Bristol

Date published: December 2 2016

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys has named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday's clash with Bristol Rugby at Kingsholm.

The only changes to the matchday squad are in the replacements where club captain Greig Laidlaw and back row forward Ross Moriarty return from Scotland and Wales duty respectively.

It's the first meeting between the two sides for almost eight years and, with the Rifles Cup on the line, is sure to be a memorable occasion.

Previewing the game with the local media, Gloucester defence coach Jonny Bell was asked whether it being a local derby makes Saturday's game any different from usual.

"In theory, there shouldn't be any difference," he said.

"But, in reality, they're hugely passionate affairs with raised intensity. There's talk about bragging rights, but that's mostly from the outside. I think for us that it's a game we need to win. We need to get our processes right as we know that Bristol are going to come all guns blazing. They need points, we need points so it makes for a great contest.

"Fundamentally, we've got to get results, these are two teams who are fighting for every point they can get. The fact that it's a local derby, the first since 2008, adds a little bit of extra spice to it. We need to put in a performance, we need to get our own shop in order. We're not getting carried away by recent weeks. We're still 10th in the league but performances have been better and the players themselves are growing in belief, but we need to convert those into points.

"Really encouraging growth but we're under no illusions as to what we need to do. Bristol are next up and, like ourselves, they're desperate for points and want to win. If we don't get ourselves in the right place, we could lose."

Meanwhile, Bristol's acting head coach, Mark Tainton, makes four changes to the side that secured a losing bonus point to Leicester Tigers last weekend.

Jack Wallace and Adrian Jarvis come into the back-line, while Jason Woodward moves to full-back and Jack Tovey switches to outside centre.

In the pack, Rob Hawkins is selected at hooker, while Jon Fisher also returns to the line-up.

"Bristol-Gloucester is a massive derby match," said Tainton.

"A long, long time ago, when I was playing, it was the fixture you looked forward to – going to Kingsholm or getting Gloucester to Bristol. The rivalry is fantastic and we've had some great battles over the years.

"I expect a tremendous battle on the weekend at Kingsholm – I just hope we come out on the right end of it. I think it's always a good time to play a derby fixture. The players are already looking forward to it, and I'm sure the Gloucester players are the same, as the fans will be.”

Form: Gloucester’s only win in the last six rounds of the Premiership was 36-18 at home to Wasps in Round 8, although one of these games was drawn and in three others they picked up a losing bonus point. Bristol are still without a victory in the Premiership this season, but they have at least picked up three losing bonus points in the last four games. Bristol have not won away from home in the Premiership since their trip to Newcastle in March 2008. The two famous old rivals have not locked horns since 2008/09 when Gloucester won both encounters in the Premiership. Bristol have beaten Gloucester just once since 2006: 29-26 at Memorial Stadium in February 2008, whilst their only victory at Kingsholm since 1994 came in the Premiership in March 2006. 

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 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 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister 
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Ollie Thorley

Bristol: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jack Tovey, 12 Will Hurrell, 11 Jack Wallace, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Jon Fisher, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Kyle Traynor 
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 James Phillips, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Luke Arscott

Date: Saturday, December 3
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Paul Burton
TMO: Stuart Terheege