Planet Rugby

Preview: Gloucester v Harlequins

23rd November 2007 11:57

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Nicolas Spanghero Quins

Spanghero Western: Quins lock Nicolas Spanghero will start at Kingsholm

Harlequins will be looking to upset Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester when they travel to Kingsholm this Saturday.

Quins boss Dean Richards has made one change to the XV that started last week's Heineken Cup draw with Cardiff Blues, with illness seeing Jim Evans being replaced by Nicolas Spanghero.

The bench will see the return of Jordan Turner-Hall and, again due to illness, Chris Hala'ufia will be unable to regain his spot, being replaced by Will Skinner.

Meanwhile, Andy Hazell returns for Gloucester after a six-week absence.

The openside, capped seven times by England, damaged rib cartilage against Leicester at the start of October but returns to his favoured berth as Gloucester look to strengthen their position at the top of the table.

Hazell started the first four matches of Gloucester's season and comes in for Akapusi Qera.

"We are fortunate to be able to welcome back a player of Andy's desire, commitment and determination at this stage of the season," said Gloucester coach Dean Ryan.

"He is an outstanding player for us, the injury was particularly painful but we wanted to ensure he got the right recovery time and didn't rush him.

"The reason we have a squad of such depth is so we don't rely on any one individual and over the last six weeks we have operated really well in the back row."

Hazell will be joined in the back row by skipper Peter Buxton, back at number six following a stint in the second row and Gareth Delve, who will make his first start of the season at number eight.

In all, there are eight changes to the side that beat the Ospreys 26-18 at Kingsholm last Friday, including three more up front.

Patrice Collazo comes in at loosehead for Nick Wood and will make his first start since Gloucester's defeat against London Irish at the end of October.

Andy Titterrell replaces Olivier Azam at hooker and will be partnered by Carlos Nieto at tighthead.

Will James starts at lock alongside Marco Bortolami as Alex Brown recovers from a shoulder injury.

In the backs, there will be a new half-back combination with Gareth Cooper returning to the side following a hamstring injury alongside Chris Paterson at fly-half.

There is only one other change in the three-quarters with Olly Morgan coming in for Iain Balshaw at full-back.

Form: Gloucester have secured back to back wins over the past fortnight in the European Cup. The top of the table outfit in the Guinness Premiership have a won 5, lost 1 record in the competition so far this season. Harlequins are without a win in their last three games in all competitions but were victorious 26-25 against London Wasps on their last time out in the Guinness Premiership on 20 October. Quins have not won on the road in the Premiership since a 28-15 victory at Northampton on 17 February. Gloucester have won nine of their last ten encounters with Harlequins since February 2001, whilst Quins' last victory at Kingsholm was 31-20 in the Premiership on 13 February 1999.

Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Chris Paterson, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Peter Buxton (c), 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Will James, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Patrice Collazo.

Replacements: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Luke Narraway, 19 Alasdair Strokosch, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Ryan Lamb, 22 Iain Balshaw.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Simon Keogh, 13 David Strettle, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Chris Malone, 9 Andy Gomarsall, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Paul Volley, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Nicolas Spanghero, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Tani Fuga, 1 Ceri Jones.

Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Ricky Nebbett, 18 James Percival, 19 Will Skinner, 20 Steven So'oialo, 21 Adrian Jarvis, 22 Jordan Turner-Hall.

Date: Saturday, 24 November

Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Venue: Kingsholm

Referee: David Rose

Touch judges: Steve Terheege, Martin Buck

Assessor: Colin High

Television match official: Matt Peters

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