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Preview: Gloucester v Newcastle

13th April 2012 11:54

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Greg Goosen Newcastle Falcons sliding in for one of his three tries against Cardiff Blues in the LV= Cup

Greg Goosen: At full-back for Falcons

Relegation-threatened Newcastle Falcons have made four changes for Saturday's Aviva Premiership trip to Gloucester.

There's a lot riding on the game for both sides with Gloucester currently occupying the final Heineken Cup qualification place and the Falcons still striving to avoid the drop at the foot of the table.

With Jeremy Manning out for the season with ruptured ligaments in his right thumb, Greg Goosen gets the nod at full-back while Ryan Shortland starts on the wing for the first time since scoring the winning try in the Falcons 19-10 triumph over London Irish back in February.

Victim of the foreign rule in recent weeks, Kiwi Shortland will be looking to build on his four tries scored this campaign.

In the pack loan signing Adam Balding is handed the number eight jersey with Ally Hogg moving to blindside flanker.

James Hudson returns to the starting XV after featuring for the last 28 minutes of the 22-19 comeback victory at home to Sale Sharks a fortnight ago.

Gary Gold's men head into the Cherry and Whites clash on the back of some warm weather training in the Algarve, with the Falcons boss delighted with his side's preparation.

"It was a good exercise for us in terms of reassessing where we are after the last three games," said director of rugby Gold.

"We gave some of the lads some valuable game time and it is reassuring to know that if we have injuries those players can step up to the plate," added Gold.

"Their backline is lethal and they tick every box from a rugby point of view - they have a strong physical pack who ask questions of you in the scrum and at the line-out.

"If you do not answer those questions then they will move the ball wide to their wingers and when they crack on with their running game they are a lethal outfit.

"We have had Gloucester watched and we know what to expect from them. It is important that we go down there with a positive mindset and take the energy that we had against Sale into the game.

"We are also realistic and we are very disappointed with our away performances, certainly since I have been here. It is something that I would dearly like to put right before I leave."

Meanwhile, Gloucester Head Coach Bryan Redpath has made minimal changes to his side.

The main changes are in the midfield where Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and Mike Tindall both return while, up front, Alex Brown comes in for Tom Savage.

Talking to the local media this week, Redpath was aware of the significance of the game for both sides.

"Newcastle are fighting for their lives to stay in the Premiership while we're fighting to stay in the top six," said Redpath.

"Top six is very important for us. The Heineken Cup is important to the club, this year's matches were great and we want to see it back at Kingsholm next year.

"So, there's a lot of stake for both clubs and some people will say there's more at stake for someone who's fighting for their livelihood."

Form: Gloucester have slipped to three successive defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby and lost their first game in the competition at Kingsholm since November when Exeter were the visitors in round 18. Newcastle Falcons' 22-19 victory over Sale last time out ended a three game winless run in the competition. The Falcons have not won away from home in the Premiership since a visit to Leeds in February 2011. The Falcons won a thriller against Gloucester by the narrowest of margins at Kinsgton Park in round ten, but have not achieved a season's double over the Cherry & Whites since the inaugural Premiership season - 1997/98.

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 Nick Runciman, 8 Luke Narraway (capt) 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Alasdair Strokosch, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Tim Molenaar

Newcastle: 15 Greg Goosen, 14 Corne Uys, 13 Jamie Helleur, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Adam Balding 7 Will Welch, 6 Ally Hogg, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Jonny Golding.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 James Hall, 19 James Goode, 20 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 21 Mark Wilson, 22 Will Chudley, 23 Tom Catterick

Date: Saturday, April 14
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

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