Preview: Gloucester v Exeter

Date published: April 14 2016

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Gloucester return to Premiership action at Kingsholm on Friday and make four changes to their starting line-up for the visit of the Exeter Chiefs.

For the visit of high-flying Exeter, there are three changes to the pack and one new face in the backline.

Up front, Yann Thomas will make his first Premiership start of the season having made 12 appearances off the bench, while Jeremy Thrush and Ross Moriarty return in the second row and back row respectively.

The only change in the backs sees Billy Twelvetrees return in the midfield with Henry Trinder moving to the left wing in place of Steve McColl to accommodate him.

The Chiefs also bowed out of European action last weekend, suffering a heart-breaking last-gasp defeat against Wasps but Gloucester Director of Rugby, David Humphreys, is not expecting that defeat to affect the Devon based outfit.

“They were magnificent last week and unlucky to lose. But, throughout the year, they’ve been very consistent in their performances, which is reflected by their second place," he said.

“It’s a huge test for us, a huge test of the players’ character and their ability to bounce back. Many of the recent meetings between us have been one score games, incredibly tight, very small margins.

“They’ve developed a very good squad, a group of players and a management team who’ve been together for a long time. They’re a good model for a club that’s trying to build success based on stability and continuity, with a group of players that have come through your system who understand what the club is all about supplemented with some top quality international players.”

And, from Gloucester’s perspective, Humphreys is looking to finish the season in a positive manner.

“We’ve analysed last week’s game, but now put that behind us," he explained.

"That’s sport, that’s all you can do – learn from it and look forward to the next game. It’s consistency we’re striving for, we put in a good performance against Leicester but then were poor last week.

“That’s the challenge for us all. No-one’s panicking, it’s not a case of throwing everything out and trying to start again. We know we have good players, we’ve produced some very good performances this season.

“But we now have to go out in these final three games and put in performances that reflect the calibre of player we have, but also give the supporters some belief in the team that going forward we will get it right.”

Meanwhile, team news for the Chiefs sees Rob Baxter make just one change to his starting XV from that of last weekend.

A knee injury to Scottish international Moray Low means he misses out this, so Harry Williams is promoted from the bench with Carl Rimmer added to the matchday 23.

Form: Gloucester have slipped to five straight defeats in all competitions, their worst run since 2012. At Kingsholm the Cherry and Whites have lost just twice in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season, against Leicester in round 10 and Bath in round 18. Exeter Chiefs' last seven encounters in all tournaments have gone with home field advantage. The Chiefs have won just once on the road since January: 22-15 at London Irish in 21st February. Exeter beat Gloucester 19-10 at Sandy Park in round 9 and have never before achieved an Aviva Premiership Rugby double over their west country rivals. The Chiefs most recent victory at Kinsgholm in Premiership Rugby came in December 2012.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Rob Cook, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Trinder, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Ollie Thorley, 23 Jacob Rowan

Exeter: 15 Lachlan Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 
16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Michele Campagnaro, 23 James Short

Date: Friday, April 15
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe, Roger Baileff
TMO: Trevor Fisher

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