Preview: Gloucester v Northampton

Date published: February 10 2012

Gloucester welcome back a number of players for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints at Kingsholm.

Gloucester welcome back a number of players for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints at Kingsholm.

It's the first Aviva Premiership fixture at Kingsholm since Boxing Day when Gloucester demolished Wasps in front of a sell out crowd.

The England Saxons have finished their spring fixture calendar which sees Freddie Burns, Rupert Harden, Jonny May and Nick Wood all available again.

Also released from England and Scotland respectively this weekend are Charlie Sharples and Rory Lawson.

As a result, it's a much changed Gloucester side which will line up against the Saints on Saturday and Head Coach Brian Redpath confessed that it's good to have selection options this weekend.

“Numbers have been pretty bare this past couple of weeks and it's good to have the boys back,” said Redpath.

“I think it's going to be a very tough game – Northampton lost to Bath recently and then went out and beat Wasps by 50.

“You've got to respect what they are, they are a very good side. They're very big and physical but have added a bit of flair with the likes of Lamb and Pisi.

“It's going to be tough. They are missing quite a few players but we have to concentrate on what we are and make sure we perform. We have to look forward to it and not shirk away from it.”

Meanwhile, Northampton Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says Saints will need to step up their performance levels from the win over London Wasps.

“Gloucester have shown their quality in their recent home matches, especially against Toulouse a few weeks ago,” said Mallinder.

“They have a pack that can produce good ball and a set of backs that can pose plenty of problems if they get on the front foot. The Kingsholm crowd can also be a factor and the supporters really get behind their team if they start scoring points.

“We had a boost last week when we got the result we wanted to get into the LV= Cup semi-finals, but we will have to step up from that performance if we want to come home from Gloucester with a positive result.

“Everyone has trained well this week despite the weather and is determined to keep our cup momentum going as we turn our attention back to our Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign.”

Form: Gloucester have won their last four home matches in all competitions since their 14-19 defeat to Leicester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 26 November. Gloucester's only victory in their last five Premiership games was 39-10 at home to London Wasps in round 11. Northampton Saints have won their last three Premiership matches and suffered just one reversal in their last eight games in the competition: 25-30 at Leicester in round ten. The Saints won 26-24 when the two teams met at Franklin's Gardens in September, whilst Northampton's only victory at Kingsholm since 2005 was 27-14 on 19 September 2009.

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 Rory Lawson, 8 Matt Cox 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton (c), 5 Alex Brown, 4 Will James, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Rob Langley, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Tim Molenaar

Northampton Saints: 15 Paul Diggin, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lambe, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Calum Clark (capt), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Andy Long, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Tom May.

Date: Saturday, February 11
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 14.15 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle