Preview: Gloucester v Exeter

Date published: March 23 2012

Gloucester Head Coach Bryan Redpath has made nine changes to his side for Saturday's clash with Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm.

Gloucester Head Coach Bryan Redpath has made nine changes to his side for Saturday's clash with Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm.

After a three match winning run in the Aviva Premiership, Gloucester slipped to defeat at a sodden Welford Road last time out and Redpath has called upon some of his most experienced players.

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu returns to partner Mike Tindall in the Gloucester midfield and there are two new wingers in Charlie Sharples and James Simpson-Daniel.

In the front row, Dan Murphy comes in for Nick Wood who suffered a season ending injury against the Tigers while returning Scotland internationals Scott Lawson and Jim Hamilton also boost the pack.

In the back row, only Matt Cox is retained and he moves from openside to blindside as Akapusi Qera and Luke Narraway return.

With only five rounds of the Aviva Premiership remaining, every game is important from here on in, but this one is especially so given that the Chiefs occupy fifth place in the table, one position and four points ahead of Gloucester.

“This week is about getting the detail right and getting our minds right. It's a big game. Exeter are in fifth position and they deserve to be there,” said Redpath.
“They may have only been promoted two seasons ago, but they're a Premiership side now and they're here to stay.
“They're very tough, very durable and a hard working group. You can never take them lightly.
“We may be back at Kingsholm but we have to make sure we take nothing for granted against a very well organised Exeter side.”

Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has challenged his players to “come good” as the 2011/12 season enters into its final straight.

Although Baxter sticks with an unchanged starting line-up from that which sank the Sharks, he is buoyed on the bench by the return of Fijian powerhouse Sireli Naqelevuki, who has not played a game since breaking his arm against Gloucester earlier this season.
Naqelevuki scored twice in last season's loss at Kingsholm and his return – at this stage of the season – is a welcome boost to the Chiefs.
“It's great to see the big guy out there running around again with a big smile on his face,” said Baxter.

“He loves training and being part of the everyday process rather than being stuck in with the conditioners and the physios. It's good to see him around again and certainly increases our options. But, at the same time, we've got some guys out there who have been performing really well, so he's going to have to fight his way back in. I have no doubt he will fight because he adds something when he is playing well, but let's see if the other boys can keep him out for a while longer.”

Form: Gloucester's three-game winning streak came to an end last time out at Leicester on 4 March. Gloucester have won their last six home games at Kingsholm in all competitions since the Tigers won there in the Premiership on 26 November. Exeter Chiefs' only reversal in their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby matches was 9-12 at home to Bath on 25 February. The Chiefs' have won six of their last seven away games in all competitions since November. Exeter's solo victory over Gloucester in a competitive match was 22-10 at Sandy Park in the Premiership on 4 September 2010.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Luke Narraway (capt), 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Peter Buxton, 21 Nick Runciman, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Tim Molenaar

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Bryan Rennie, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (c), 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Hoani Tui.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Ben White, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.

Date: Saturday, March 24
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15.00
Referee: Greg Garner