Preview: London Welsh v Gloucester

Date published: September 25 2014

London Welsh have made four changes, including a positional switch, for Friday’s Premiership clash with Gloucester at the Kassam Stadium.

In the backs, Tom May and Rhys Crane come in to replace the injured Tim Molenaar and Seb Stegmann at centre and wing respectively.

In the forwards, Lachlan McCaffrey moves from number eight to blindside flanker in place of the injured Peter Browne, with Ollie Stedman coming in to the side at the base of the scrum.

“The first few games have been really tough for us – we’ve got some obvious errors to rectify,” said the Exiles’ head coach Justin Burnell.

“But we’re looking forward to being back at the Kassam Stadium and getting our loyal band of supporters’ right behind us. We’re back at home and that’s important.

“As a group, the coaches, management and players all felt our performance in our first home game of the season against Exeter was unacceptable – we let a lot of people down. We’ll be looking to address that on Friday.”

Meanwhile, flanker Matt Kvesic, scrum-half Dan Robson and lock Elliott Stooke will make their first Aviva Premiership starts of 2014/15 for Gloucester.

All three featured as replacements in the narrow 22-25 home defeat to Exeter Chiefs last weekend, but come in to the starting line up in place of Ross Moriarty, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Savage respectively.

The Cherry and Whites travel to Oxford looking for their first win on the road this season.

Gloucester head coach Laurie Fisher confirmed that Gloucester are heading in the right direction and focusing on themselves to make further improvements ahead of Friday evening.

“It’s just that general trying to add bits and pieces to our game, trying to get comfortable with how each other plays, get comfortable with the style we’re trying to play,” he said.

“Each week we’re learning. I honestly think that it was our best performance of the year so far against Exeter, so I’m encouraged by the direction we’re going. That said, we’ve still got things to work on.

“Our focus has been very much on ourselves. We’ll go up to the Kassam Stadium only concerned with what’s in our own back yard and not worrying too much about the opposition.

“We’ve just got to play our game and play it well. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game last week, we didn’t go through with it. I’m hopeful we’ll give ourselves another opportunity this week.”

Form: London Welsh’s only league point so far in this season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign was a try bonus during their defeat at Bath in round 2. The Exiles most recent Premiership Rugby victory came at home to Worcester in the final round of the 2012/13 season. Gloucester Rugby have secured just one win in their last four outings: 34-27 at home to Sale in round 2, whilst their only away victory in any tournament since January was 14-13 at Exeter in Aviva Premiership Rugby in March. The two clubs have met on six previous occasions in competitive rugby with London Welsh’s only victory to date being in the third round of the John Player Cup at Kingsholm in January 1983.

The teams:

London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Rhys Crane, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 Tom May (c), 11 Nick Scott, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Ollie Stedman, 7 Richard Thorpe, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 James Down, 4 Dean Schofield, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Ricky Reeves.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Shane Cahill, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Ben Pienaar, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Tristan Roberts, 23 James Lewis.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Purdy, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Tom Palmer; 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 James Hudson, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Tom Isaacs.

Date: Friday, September 26
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Venue: Kassam Stadium
Referee: Luke Pearce (30th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Ross Campbell
TMO: Sean Davey