Preview: Gloucester v Dragons

Date published: April 8 2016

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Gloucester boss David Humphreys has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday's Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Dragons at Kingsholm.

Humphreys has made three changes to the pack and named an unchanged back-line from the side that started against Leicester Tigers last weekend.

Two of the changes are in the front row where Richard Hibbard and John Afoa return in place of Darren Dawidiuk and Paul Doran-Jones respectively. The other new face sees Sione Kalamafoni replace Gareth Evans in the back row.

A semi-final place against either Sale Sharks or Montpellier awaits the victors with Gloucester also seeking to retain the trophy that they lifted last May at the Stoop and become the first team to defend the trophy.

The teams haven't met in Cup competition since the LV= Cup quarter-final in March 2011 and, despite the visitors not having a great season in the PRO12, David Humphreys insists that the Dragons have to be respected.

"You get one chance at knock-out rugby and we know how important this game is in the context of the season," he said.

"We understand how desperate Dragons will be to win the game, and that they've been here before in that last season they got through to the semi-final of the competition. 

"Teams that reach the quarter-finals have earned the right to be there. They're going to be very competitive. They're similar to ourselves in many ways in that they've had a disappointing league campaign, and this gives them the chance to keep the season going a little bit.

"So, they'll be tough Cup opponents but our focus has been very much on ourselves. We've got to prepare well and make sure that we're ready to go on Saturday lunchtime.

"This weekend we have to give ourselves the best chance to win the game. We're going in with a clear game plan, with a clear idea of what we think we will need to do to beat the Dragons."

Meanwhile, flanker Lewis Evans will lead the Dragons out in this crucial fixture. Full-back Carl Meyer gets the nod alongside wings Adam Hughes and Hallam Amos in the back three. 

The centre partnership remains unchanged from last weekend as Tyler Morgan and Adam Warren are named. Fly-half Dorian Jones remains in the team alongside South African scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front row sees hooker Elliot Dee join props Phil Price and Brok Harris. There is one change in the second row as Nick Crosswell joins lock Rynard Landman. The back row sees flanker Lewis Evans take on the role of captain and he joins Nic Cudd and number eight Taulupe Faletau.

The replacements bench sees the return of Angus O’Brien from injury and Matthew Screech also moves to the bench. They join Rhys Buckley, Boris Stankovich, Shaun Knight, Ed Jackson, Charlie Davies and Geraint Rhys Jones. 

Form: Defending champions Gloucester host last year's semi-finalists, the Dragons, in what promises to be an entertaining encounter. Gloucester are in a rich vein of form in the Challenge Cup after winning their last 15 matches in the competition. They finished off the group stages of the competition with a hard-fought 14-11 away victory over Zebre. The Cherry and Whites are battling in the Premiership, however, and are currently on a four-match losing streak in that competition. The Dragons' form is even worse and they head in to this fixture on the back of seven successive defeats in the PRO12. In their last Challenge Cup match, they suffered a 38-5 defeat at Sale in their final pool match in January.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Rob Cook, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Steve McColl, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 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 Elliott Stooke, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Ollie Thorley, 23 Jacob Rowan

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (c), 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Geraint Rhys Jones

Date: Saturday, April 9
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 12:45 BST (11:45 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Laurent Cardona (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

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