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Preview: Gloucester v Northampton

20th September 2013 10:35

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Jimmy Cowan Gloucester

Starts: Jimmy Cowan

Gloucester have handed 20-year-old lock Elliott Stooke his first Aviva Premiership start in Saturday's home fixture against Northampton Saints.

The England U20 international has impressed the Gloucester coaching staff greatly in recent months and will partner skipper Tom Savage.

The only other changes to the side that started at Saracens last weekend see Dan Murphy start in place of the suspended Nick Wood at loosehead prop, and Jimmy Cowan get the nod at scrum-half in place of Tavis Knoyle.

Meanwhile, amongst the replacements, having come through the A League game at Sale on Monday evening, Shaun Knight and Jonny May are both named in the matchday squad for the first time.

The Saints are flying high at the moment with two wins from their two opening matches, and Director of Rugby Nigel Davies is under no illusions about the size of the task in hand.

"They're all tough games, and the players know that they'll have to be right on top of their game to get anything out of this match," he said.

"They'll be coming here as strong favourites based on their past two performances and results. They'll come here with a lot of confidence and rightly so.

"It's very difficult to judge last weekend. In terms of spirit and commitment, there was plenty. But, in terms of the result, it was very difficult having played virtually the entire game with 14 men.

"But I was actually a little bit happier with the performance last Sunday than I was the week before. I've got no doubt that we're going to be a lot better than the first game of the season."

Northampton meanwhile hand wing Jamie Elliott his first Aviva Premiership start of the season. The same goes for prop Alex Waller, who replaces a rested Alex Corbisiero, while in the back-row Sam Dickinson returns to the number eight shirt.

Ken Pisi and Courtney Lawes start on the bench, as does prop Ethan Waller, who started Monday's Aviva 'A' League win over Worcester.

Form: Gloucester have slipped to defeat in their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby matches and have never begun a Premiership season with three straight losses. Northampton Saints beat Exeter in round 1 and Harlequins in round 2, and are one of only three teams with a 100 percent record, whilst their only loss on the road in the Premiership in 2013 came at Harlequins in May. Both encounters between the two clubs in the Premiership last season were won by the away side on the day.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Matt Kvesic, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Tom Savage (capt), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Jonny May.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 James Wilson, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Pisi, 23 Ken Pisi.

Date: Saturday, September 21
Kick-off: 15:15 BST
Venue: Kingsholm
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Ashley Rowden
Television match official: Graham Hughes

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Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
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Wasps vs Northampton14:00
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Northampton vs Bath15:15
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London Irish vs Northampton15:00
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7London Welsh00
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10Sale Sharks00
11Saracens00