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Preview: Gloucester v Edinburgh

11th December 2013 09:46

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Martyn Thomas Gloucester

Right wing: Martyn Thomas

Tongan international prop Sila Puafisi has been included in a Gloucester squad for the first time for Sunday's Heineken Cup clash with Edinburgh.

The 25-year-old tighthead, whose signing was announced after Tonga's final match of their November international tour, has been training with his new team-mates whilst waiting patiently to receive a work permit.

That hurdle overcome, and registered for European action, Puafisi will start on the bench for Sunday's game against Edinburgh, the second of the back to back games between the two teams.

Gloucester produced an efficient performance to take the spoils at Murrayfield last Sunday, and will now be looking to complete the job and follow up with victory at Kingsholm.

Munster currently lead Pool 6 by two points from Gloucester so, with Munster travelling to Perpignan, it's very tight at the top of the pool.

Previewing the fixture with the local media this week, Director of Rugby Nigel Davies admitted that he's expecting a reaction from Edinburgh this weekend.

"To go to Edinburgh and get a result was very significant in the context of our season. It's a very difficult place to go, I've experienced that in the Celtic League in the past," he said.

"Obviously in this competition, they've already taken the scalp of Munster so they're a very capable outfit and, certainly from their reaction after the game on Sunday, it was a game they expected to win.

"But we played some good rugby and it was one of our most comfortable wins for a while in all fairness. They did start to put some pressure on us in the second half, but we held out in a couple of key moments.

"They're a very competent side, and they'll no doubt use the disappointment of last weekend to come down here, put in a big performance and get a result back. We have to be very wary of that."

Meanwhile, Edinburgh welcome the return of Scotland international hooker Ross Ford for this Sunday's Heineken Cup rematch with Gloucester.

The 2009 British and Irish Lion has been absent with a calf injury since the Autumn Tests and is a welcome boost ahead of the cup clash.

He packs down between props Wicus Blaauw and Willem Nel, and takes on the captaincy from scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who has been replaced by summer signing Grayson Hart.

"It's great to have Ross [Ford] back. He's a very good player of international class," said boss Alan Solomons.

"He's a big strong man and comes in as part of good front-row. It will be interesting to see how they go.

"It's been difficult for Grayson [Hart] who would have played earlier in the season were it not for injury, after which Sean Kennedy and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne stepped up and did very well.

"He's had to keep working hard and wait for this chance.

"It's a similar story with Wicus [Blauauw] who has put in a lot of extra hours through the recent break and I think he is now ready to start at this level.

"He has proved in the past what he is capable of. He was a very good Super Rugby player for the Stormers and I think he's ready for it.

"They're both champing at the bit to get this opportunity."

Solomons has also opted to reintroduce Roddy Grant and Argentine internationalist Tomas Leonardi at flanker, while Joaquin Dominguez steps into midfield in place of centre Nick De Luca.

Solomons added: "We performed poorly in the first-half against Gloucester last weekend, we were flat.

"When you get a performance like that you have to make a change. There's no doubt that some of our guys are at a place where it could affect their performance, while others are straining at the leash to play.

"I'm looking forward to seeing them get out there and put in an improved performance on last week."

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Martyn Thomas, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Charlie Sharples.

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Douglas Fife, 13 Joaquin Dominguez, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Tomas Leonardi, 5 Izak Van Der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford (c), 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Ross Rennie, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Lee Jones, 23 Tom Brown.

Date: Sunday 15th December
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon, Stephane Boyer (both France)
TMO: Jean-Pierre Pellaprat

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