Preview: Gloucester v Wasps

Date published: March 4 2016

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Gloucester make four changes to the starting lineup that defeated Newcastle last weekend as they welcome Wasps to Kingsholm in the Premiership on Saturday. Greig Laidlaw returns from Scotland duty to captain the side.

Laidlaw comes in for Willi Heinz who was withdrawn from the Falcons game at half time a week ago with a tight calf. It is the only change to the back line.

In the pack, there are three changes as Gloucester continue their rotation policy of recent weeks. Tom Savage returns to partner Jeremy Thrush in the second row, while Sione Kalamafoni and Matt Kvesic come into the back row.

With eight points separating third place in the table from eighth, every game has significance at this stage of the season and Head Coach Laurie Fisher knows that Gloucester have a fight on their hands this weekend against an in-form Wasps side.

He said: "Wasps have been in great form. They've obviously been outstanding in Europe, had an enormous win against Saracens away from home and another quality performance against Harlequins. They're flying high and will be enormously challenging.”

Meanwhile, the only change to the Wasps starting lineup from last Sunday’s win against Harlequins comes in the front row, where Edd Shervington starts at hooker.

Simon McIntyre, Sam Jones and Ruaridh Jackson return from injury to take a place on the bench. Wasps also welcome back from Six Nations’ duty Wales lock Bradley Davies and Italy tighthead Lorenzo Cittadini.                                                                           

Ahead of the trip to Kingsholm, Dai Young said: “We’ve put together a good run over recent weeks and we certainly have momentum, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.

"After 14 games last season we were in 4th place with 41 points and this season after 14 games we’re third with 42 points, so we are in a very similar position to where we were last year. Unfortunately we fell away last year, so this year we’ve just got to keep our foot on the pedal. We haven’t achieved anything yet and know there’s still a lot of hard work to do.

“We all know how tough a place Kingsholm is to get a result and Gloucester are also in really good form. I think they’ve only lost once at home in their last nine games, so we know we will need to be at our best if we are to keep our good run going.”

Form: Gloucester have lost only one of their last four Premiership fixtures: 12-25 at Saracens in round 13. Gloucester's only defeat in their last nine matches at Kingsholm was 18-19 to Leicester on January 30. Wasps are the best side in Premiership rugby on current form having won their last six matches and dropped only three possible league points in the process. Wasps' only away defeat in the competition since round three came when they visited Sale on January 2. Wasps have won their last six encounters with Gloucester since the Cherry & White's 29-22 victory at Kingsholm in September 2012.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister 
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Henry Trinder

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 Thomas Young, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Cannon, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Edd Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Jamie Stevenson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Brendan Macken

Date: Saturday, March 5
Venue: Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce 
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick, Paul Burton
TMO: David Rose

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