Planet Rugby

Preview: Leicester v Gloucester

15th April 2011 12:38

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Tom Croft Exeter

Skipper: Tom Croft leading the hosts

Aviva Premiership pace-setters Leicester have made five changes to their pack for their top-four clash against Gloucester at Welford Road.

The Tigers return to home ground on Saturday after a six-week absence as they host the Cherry and Whites in Round 20.

Martin Castrogiovanni, George Skivington and Thomas Waldrom return to Leicester's starting XV and Rob Hawkins, Ben Woods and Billy Twelvetrees also come into the line-up.

"It's great to be back at Welford Road after a run of away games and we have two of our last three league games here," said Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

"We have to get over the defeat in the Heineken Cup - there is nothing we can do about that now. You just have to pick yourself up and go again. There is still a lot to play for this season.

"We've made a few changes this week because guys like Craig Newby and Anthony Allen have played a lot of rugby and we need to have everyone fit and fresh for the run-in.

"Gloucester have been going well in the second half of the season and Bryan Redpath is doing a good job there. They're in a good place for a semi-final place themselves and it'll be a good contest."

Tom Croft will lead out the team in Newby's absence.

Louis Deacon is ruled out this week with an Achilles injury, joining Geordan Murphy, Geoff Parling and Ben Pienaar on the sidelines. Marcos Ayerza misses out due to suspension.

Meanwhile, Gloucester scrum-half Dave Lewis will make his first appearance since mid February while Brett Deacon is named captain on his return to his former club.

Lewis' return following a knee injury is one of two changes to the back-line from last weekend's defeat at Sale, with Eliota Fuimoano-Sapolu replacing Tim Molenaar in midfield.

There are more changes to the pack as Alasdair Dickinson, Rupert Harden, Will James, Matt Cox, Andy Hazell and Brett Deacon are all restored to the starting line up.

Leicester bowed out of the Heineken Cup last weekend as a result of their defeat to Leinster leaving them just the Aviva Premiership to focus on this season.

At Welford Road, they are a formidable foe something Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath is well aware of.

"Leicester play more rugby than people in the past have given them credit for. But they obviously rely on their scrum power and are very efficient on that front," Redpath said on the official Gloucester website.

"But they've got some good ball players too: just look at Flood and Youngs. If you give them space they will exploit it."

And improvement in defence is a must this weekend for Gloucester according to Redpath.

"We must focus on ourselves a bit more and understand that we have a big say in what happens in attack and defence. Some parts of it are just hard work and we have to help ourselves defensively.

"Defensively we were poor last weekend. We defended as individuals and we must get back to defending as a team, and helping inside and outside shoulders. It's a real challenge, because Leicester generally score tries at Welford Road."

Form: Gloucester have won two of their last three encounters with Tigers and have had an excellent record in recent encounters at Welford Road securing three wins to Leicester's four and one game drawn on their last eight visits. Leicester Tigers' only defeat in their last dozen Aviva Premiership Rugby matches since October was 14-15 at home to Saracens on 5 March. The Tigers have lost two of their last three home games in all competitions. Gloucester have lost two of their last three games in all competitions, and have won just two of their last six Premiership away games.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Tom Croft (c), 5 George Skivington, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Boris Stankovich
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Julian White, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Jordan Crane, 20 Craig Newby, 21 James Grindal, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Matt Smith

Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Brett Deacon (capt), 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Will James, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Alex Brown, 20 Alasdair Strokosch, 21 Rory Lawson, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Tim Molenaar

Date: Saturday, April 16
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Referee: George Clancy

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