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Preview: Gloucester v Harlequins

18th November 2011 13:03

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lesley vainikolo gloucester v worcester 2011

Lesley Vainikolo: Returns to Gloucester's starting line-up

Gloucester have made two changes to their starting XV for Saturday's Heineken Cup clash with Harlequins at Kingsholm.

It's one change in the backs for coach Bryan Redpath and one new face up front as Gloucester try to become the first team to beat Harlequins this season.

Lesley Vainikolo is named on the left wing and makes his first start since the LV= Cup defeat away at Leicester almost a month ago while Scott Lawson comes in at hooker for only his second start since his return from World Cup duty with Scotland.

With those exceptions, it's the same squad that performed so heroically in Toulouse last weekend, only losing to a late Clement Poitrenaud try which dashed hopes of a memorable away win.

Redpath knows that his team will have to be at their best at the weekend but feels that they're heading in the right direction.

"We've been great physically and mentally over the past three weeks and have got to carry that over into this weekend," he said.

"Quins showed great resilience against Connacht last weekend when they had to and took their chances when they arose.

"It'll be a great challenge for us on Saturday but one we should be looking forward to.

"Being the Heineken, it's a little bit different, there's a bit of a buzz about it. They've started the season really well but we always have a massive incentive to do well at home. It's a great opportunity for us to show what we can against a team bang in form," added Redpath.

Meanwhile, Harlequins have made three changes to the starting line-up that beat Connacht at the Stoop last week.

The rotation continues at hooker, with Joe Gray switching back in to start alongside Joe Marler and James Johnston, with Chris Brooker moving to the bench.

Argentinian Tomas Vallejos makes his first league start of the year, since returning from the Rugby World Cup, replacing the injured Olly Kohn in the second row. The starting back row remains unchanged.

There is only one change in the backs. Matt Hopper makes his first competitive start for the club, replacing George Lowe, who injured his ankle against Connacht and is still waiting for the medics to determine the precise nature of the injury.

The bench sees the return of Tim Fairbrother from injury and Charlie Matthews, who continues to impress after his excellent start to the season. Danny Care continues his comeback, taking his place on the bench alongside Rory Clegg and Tom Casson, who cover the outside backs.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Rory Lawson,8 Alasdair Strokosch. 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton (c), 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Will James, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Tom Voyce.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson,8 Nick Easter. 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Maurie Faasavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Tomas Vallejos, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Tim Fairbrother, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Danny Care, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Tom Casson.

Date: Saturday, November 19
Kick-off: 15:40
Venue: Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)

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