Planet Rugby

Preview: Gloucester v Bath

11th April 2014 11:51

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Kyle Eastmond for Bath in preseason

Back for Bath: Kyle Eastmond

Gloucester have made four changes to their side to take on Premiership rivals Bath at a sold-out Kingsholm on Saturday.

The Cherry and Whites make two changes in the pack and two in the backs from the team that started at London Wasps last Sunday.

Up front, Will James and Gareth Evans come in for James Hudson and Ben Morgan respectively.

In the back line, Mike Tindall returns at centre and Martyn Thomas is preferred to Rob Cook at full-back.

With just four rounds left to play, there is plenty at stake for every team in the table. Gloucester will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of bowing out of the Amlin Challenge Cup at London Wasps last weekend.

But, with Thursday's announcement regarding the future of European Rugby, a seventh place finish in the Aviva Premiership takes on new meaning so there is every incentive for Gloucester as the regular season draws to a close.

As if any further incentive would be required with Bath the visitors to a sell out Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon, a fact not lost upon Director of Rugby Nigel Davies.

"The performance last weekend, particularly the first half was unacceptable, and the players have to react to that," said Davies.

"It's a huge game for us, regardless of last weekend, regardless of what type of season we've had. The Gloucester-Bath game is the biggest game of our season.

"It's a great occasion, it's a sell out crowd. There's a lot of frustration in our camp and it's a great opportunity for us against our traditional rivals. They're in good form but, if you look at the last nine games and points gained, there's not much between the teams.

"They've come a long way and play some good rugby. They've got dangerous players all around the park and a solid platform to play off. They're a good side, it's a huge challenge for us and we can't just rely on blood and guts. We have to be technically proficient while bringing intensity and commitment."

Meanwhile, Bath have made five changes to their starting line-up that secured an Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final last weekend.

Only one change is amongst the backs, with Kyle Eastmond reclaiming the inside centre shirt to partner the in-form Matt Banahan.

Up front, the international duo of Paul James and David Wilson return either side of Ross Batty at hooker, with Dave Attwood being partnered in the second row by Club captain Stuart Hooper. Leroy Houston is given the number 8 shirt, with big-hitting Carl Fearns shifting to openside and the ubiquitous Matt Garvey retaining his place on the blindside.

Form: Gloucester have won three of their last four matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby, the loss being 13-29 at Northampton in round 16. Gloucester's only defeat in their last four Premiership games at Kingsholm was to Saracens on 4th January. Bath's last three matches in the Premiership have all been won by the away side on the day, whilst Bath's solo defeat on the road in any tournament since October came at Northampton in the Premiership on 28th December. Bath have won their last three matches against Gloucester in al tournaments but have not been victorious at Kingsholm in the Premiership since 25 February 2006.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Gareth Evans 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Will James, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Dan George, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 James Hudson, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Rob Cook

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 George Ford, 9 Micky Young, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise 19 Dominic Day, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Peter Stringer 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Anthony Watson.

Date: Saturday, April 12
Venue: Kingsholm
Kickoff: 15:15 (local, 14:15 GMT)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce and Gareth Copsey
TMO: David Sainsbury

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