Preview: Gloucester v Harlequins

Date published: February 12 2016

Gloucester make just the one change to the starting line up that won at Bath last Friday, flanker Matt Kvesic restored to the starting XV as the Cherry and Whites welcome Harlequins to Kingsholm.

The Gloucester coaching staff understandably keep the faith with the bulk of the side that performed so well in earning the local bragging rights with the win at the Rec. Kvesic was a second half replacement during that game.

There is more upheaval, however, on the bench, with three new front rowers named in the shape of Tom Lindsay, Dan Murphy and Paul Doran-Jones and the return to the matchday squad of Jeremy Thrush and Rob Cook.

The two teams battled out an entertaining 39-39 draw in the first meeting between the two sides earlier this season, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media that not every member of the Gloucester coaching staff was happy with the nature of that game.

"I'm sure if you ask Jonny Bell (Defence Coach), he will say that he certainly doesn't wan to see the same number of tries conceded!

"It was a great game. Anyone who was there talks about it as being one of the standout games in the Premiership this season, for the quality of rugby played but also for the drama.

"From our point of view, to be leading by ten points going into the last few minutes of the game and not to come away with the win was disappointing. On the other hand, we were a bit lucky that Nick Evans' last gasp drop goal missed.

"That just shows how evenly matched the teams are. Harlequins will have a few players away due to international commitments, we're missing a few through injury. But, with the squad we have, we believe we can go out and win this weekend.”

Meanwhile, there are three changes to the Harlequins starting team which played Northampton Saints last week. Joe Gray starts at hooker, with Dave Ward named at openside flanker.

Nick Easter picked up a knock last weekend and is expected to return next week for the match against Sale Sharks.

In the one change to the backs, Tim Visser returns from an injury sustained in the corresponding fixture in December.

Among the replacements, Winston Stanley and James Chisholm are named.

Form: Gloucester’s solitary defat in their last four first team fixtures was by the narrowest of margins to Leicester at Kinsgholm in Round 10 of Premiership Rugby. Gloucester have not suffered successive home defeats in the tournament since December 2014. Harlequins have slipped to three successive defeats at Montpellier, at Newcastle and at home to Northampton, whilst away from home in Premiership Rugby their record this season is won two, lost three. The two sides drew 39-all in front of over 70,000 fans at Twickenham in the ‘Big Game’ in December, their first tie in competitive rugby since a 9-9 scoreline at the same venue in the old Division 1 in November 1987. Quins' only victory at Kingsholm in Premiership Rugby since 1999 came on their most recent visit in the competition in November 2014. 

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Billy Burns, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Steve McColl, 10 James Hook, 9 Willi Heinz, 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 Tom Lindsay, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Rob Cook

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yrade, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans (c), 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 James Horwill, 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 James Chisholm, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Ben Botica, 21 Calum Waters, 22 Winston Stanley, 23 Tim Swiel

Date: Saturday, February 13
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Grashoff