Planet Rugby

Preview: Gloucester v London Welsh

22nd March 2013 11:05

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Billy Twelvetrees Michael Hills

Back home: Billy Twelvetrees

Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies makes several changes to play London Welsh, with Jim Hamilton returning to captain the side.

Hamilton is back after representing Scotland in the Six Nations. Similarly, Billy Twelvetrees returns from England duty.

The return of Twelvetrees is the only change to the back line that started against Bath three weeks ago.

However, the pack will have a new look. In addition to Hamilton returning in the second row, Huia Edmonds and Shaun Knight come in at hooker and tight head prop respectively.

And the back row will have an experienced feel to it, as Andy Hazell and Peter Buxton start on the flanks. With just five rounds left in the Aviva Premiership, every game is significant now and Davies is pleased that his side are in the play off picture.

"It's very open, and there's everything to play for. We're fifth at the moment so we're in a position where, if we play well in the next five games, we can finish in the top four," said Davies.

"We're pleased that we've got that opportunity and we're going to give it our best shot. We've used the last two weeks wisely to prepare, and have really taken things up a level in training this week."

Meanwhile, London Welsh may come to Kingsholm at the foot of the table, having suffered a points deduction, but Gloucester are reading nothing into the standings.

"It'll be a big test on Saturday. London Welsh have been extremely competitive all year, they've caught some sides out.

"They bring a real physicality, the contact area will be a real battle and, if you don't get it right, you can come off second best.

"They'll be a bit frustrated with all that's happened recently, and it'll be backs to the wall as far as they're concerned. They'll come out with everything to prove. It's a tough time to play them, a real challenge."

Meanwhile, London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones makes five changes for Saturday's trip to Kingsholm to face Gloucester in Round 18 of the Aviva Premiership.

In the backs, Seb Jewell moves from inside centre to full back where he replaces Tom Arscott, who drops out of the match-day 23 through injury.

Gonzalo Tiesi returns to the side having missed the game against Saracens through injury and takes over the number 13 jersey from Sonny Parker, who starts at inside centre.

In the forwards, there's one change in the front row with Dan George starting at hooker in place of Greg Bateman, who moves to the bench.

Elsewhere, Daniel Browne is named at number against his former club in place of Alfie To'oala. On the bench, Arthur Joly makes his first appearance for the club since Worcester on December 21 after spell out with injury.

"There was lots of good from our game against Saracens and we need to understand what is good and how we're improving, but at the same time some of the points we gave away were just so soft," said London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones.

"Our focus has been to stop playing buffet rugby and allowing teams to come and help themselves - we need to tighten up our first phase defence. Also when we have possession we need to hold onto it, so that we're not defending all the time.

"Gloucester had a great four months of the season. Results since Christmas have perhaps been indifferent but I'm sure they'll be highly motivated to get the show on the road against a side at the bottom end of the table.

"I'm sure they'll be confident that they can do well against us, but the challenge for us is to show them what we're made of."

Form: Gloucester are still chasing a top four finish, while the Exiles are rooted to the foot of the table following a five-point deduction for fielding ineligible player Tyson Keats earlier in the season. Form-wise Gloucester need a win having lost two of their last four Aviva Premiership matches, with London Welsh looking to arrest a run of seven defeats in all competitions and targeting a first Aviva Premiership win since December 1.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Will James, 4 Jim Hamilton (c), 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Martyn Thomas.

London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Phil MacKenzie, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Sonny Parker, 11 Seb Stegmann, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 James Tideswell, 2 Dan George, 1 Tom Bristow.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Billy Moss, 18 Arthur Joly, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Nick Scott.

Date: Saturday, 23 March
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees: Andrew Watson, Paul Dix

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