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Preview: Gloucester v Leicester

25th November 2011 10:32

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Luke Narraway Gloucester

Luke Narraway: Back in the mix

Luke Narraway returns to action to skipper Gloucester as they welcome Leicester to Kingsholm on Saturday in an Aviva Premiership clash.

The number eight was forced to contend with a place on the bench for the Cherry and Whites' Heineken Cup clash last weekend, but returns to the starting XV this weekend. Alasdair Strokosch shifts to the blindside flank to accommodate Narraway.

Bryan Redpath has made one further change for the game, with full-back Olly Morgan returning to action after missing his side's last two fixtures due to a shoulder injury.

Gloucester have endured a mixed back of results thus far this season, winning four and losing four of their first eight Aviva Premiership clashes. Redpath knows his team will have their work cut out against the Tigers.

"Their tenth position in the table doesn't reflect on the ability of their squad. It just reflects on their injury list and the World Cup period," said the Scot.

"They'll be fighting in every game now because they need to push for that top four and that's what Leicester always target.

"It's not going to be easy and it shouldn't be easy. We have to earn our wins and we didn't do that last week."

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill has been forced into a number of changes, with Andy Forsyth, Geoff Parling and Julian Salvi all ruled out by injury.

Billy Twelvetrees comes in for Forsyth in the midfield while George Skivington slots into the second row in place of Parling. Ben Woods takes over the number seven jersey from Salvi.

In one tactical change, Martin Castrogiovanni replaces Dan Cole at prop with Cole dropping to the bench.

After a poor start to the season, Cockerill is well aware that his team are entering a key phase in their campaign.

"This is a big month of fixtures with Gloucester and Northampton, and then the European double-header with Clermont Auvergne," he said.

"Gloucester have a good forward pack and a dangerous set of backs, and Kingsholm is always a tough place to go.

"But we put in a good all-round performance against Ulster last weekend, our defence was good throughout and we got the basics of the game right and came through in the end. Our recent form has been pretty good and we obviously want that to continue."

Form: Gloucester Rugby have won just one of their last five encounters in all competitions: 24-19 at Exeter in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 5 November. Gloucester's impressive home record which saw them defeated just once at Kingsholm in 32 matches between November 2009 and October 2011 is now a pale memory as they have suffered back to back defeats at their once proud fortress.Leicester Tigers are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, and have won their last two away matches at Sale and Aironi. The two teams have already met at Welford Road this season, where the home side ran out 40-14 victors in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. Tigers have not won at Kingsholm since their 20-8 victory in the Premiership on 7 September 2008.

The teams:

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

Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Tom Croft, 5 George Skivington, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Ed Slater, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Scott Hamilton.

Date: Saturday, November 26
Kick-off: 14:15
Venue: Kingsholm
Referee: JP Doyle

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Gloucester 55 - 0 BriveGloucester vs Brive Report
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4Bath620
5Wasps615
6Gloucester615
7Harlequins614
8Leicester Tigers614