Preview: Gloucester v Worcester

Date published: December 20 2013

Billy Twelvetrees will continue to captain Gloucester as they return to Premiership action against Worcester at Kingsholm on Sunday.

Billy Twelvetrees will continue to captain Gloucester as they return to Premiership action against Worcester at Kingsholm on Sunday.

Twelvetrees has skippered the side in recent weeks in the absence of club captain Tom Savage who has undergone surgery on a pectoral injury.

On Sunday, he will lead the side from the fly-half position, with Freddie Burns named amongst the replacements.

Mike Tindall will partner Henry Trinder in midfield, with Charlie Sharples also returning to the starting line-up.

Nick Wood is back at loose head prop, and Tongan international Sila Puafisi will make his first full start at tight head.

In the back row, Matt Cox and Matt Kvesic will line up against their former club. Cox comes in for Sione Kalamafoni who picked up an ankle injury against Edinburgh last weekend.

Talking to the local media at the club's midweek media session, Davies knows that Worcester, although still looking for their first win, have been competitive in most of their games to date.

“It's going to be a difficult encounter for us because you look at Worcester, and how they've played, and they've been in games for long periods before falling away late.

“But they'll be aware of that, and they'll have worked on that. They'll be a tough nut to crack, and we have to be in the right frame of mind, which means not just being physically ready for the challenge but also being prepared to play rugby, our style of rugby.

“That means going out there to win the game, not to just hang in there. Worcester will approach the game in their own way, we have to make sure that we are right.”

Meanwhile, centurions full-back Chris Pennell and outside centre Alex Grove will return to Warriors starting line-up.

The duo, who both signed contract extensions at Sixways earlier this month, are named in the backline after being rested for last week's trip to Biarritz.

Director of Rugby Dean Ryan makes nine changes to the side which travelled to France.

A much-changed forward pack sees Ofa Fainga'anuku, Chris Brooker and Rob O'Donnell return in the front-row, while James Percival and Mariano Galarza are recalled to the second row.

Captain Jonathan Thomas will start at number eight and there could also be a return to action for Argentinian international Leonardo Senatore, who is handed a place on the bench.

James Stephenson is the only other change in the backline as Warriors go to Kingsholm looking to close the gap on their local rivals.

Ryan said: “I asked a lot of people to put their hands up last week and I was really pleased with how well some people did. It has given me more choice in terms of this weekend's selection.

“In reality, winning would be a huge lift. I think it would be a catalyst and reward for the progress the players are making.

“We're not the kind of side that will race into a 20-point lead in the last ten minutes and sit back and hold on.

“We're always having to fight it out with swings in the last ten minutes so we're going to have to learn how to conduct ourselves in that period.”

Form: Gloucester have lost their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby matches since their 22-16 victory at Newcastle on September 29. Gloucester's only home win in the Premiership so far this season remains 26-24 over Northampton in Round Three. Worcester Warriors only win in their last 20 matches in all competitions was 21-16 at Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on November 8, whilst the Warriors' have not managed a single league point in their last seven away games in the Premiership. Gloucester have lost just once to Worcester in their last seven meetings in all tournaments since 2009: 15-21 at Sixways in the Premiership on January 7 2012. The Warriors only win at Kingsholm in any tournament was 13-6 in the Premiership in round 21 of the 2008/09 season.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Matt Cox, 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Martyn Thomas

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 James Stephenson, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 Josh Drauniniu, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Jeremy Su'a,8 Jonathan Thomas (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Richard de Carpentier, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Percival, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Jeremy Becasseau, 18 John Andress, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Andy Symons.

Date: Sunday, December 22
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Kingsholm
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Roy Maybank
Television match official: David Grashoff