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Preview: Gloucester v Exeter

21st December 2012 11:09

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Ben Morgan London Irish v Gloucester Aviva Premiership 2012

At 8: Gloucester's Ben Morgan

Gloucester boss Nigel Davies has kept faith with the majority of the team that defeated London Irish last weekend, as the Exeter Chiefs head to Kingsholm for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash.

There are only three new faces - Nick Wood and Shaun Knight come in at loosehead and tighthead respectively, while Ben Morgan returns at number eight.

Tom Savage moves from blindside into the second row, with Sione Kalamafoni shifting across the back row from number eight to wear the number six shirt.

It's an encounter between two of the in-form sides in the Aviva Premiership. Exeter have won seven in a row, while Gloucester have lost only one out of the last six.

Since the Chiefs were promoted to the Aviva Premiership for 2010-11 season, the spoils have been shared with two wins apiece.

So, another close game beckons this weekend, a fact not lost upon Davies.

"There's not much between us and the top, and there's not much between us and Exeter. So, it really makes Saturday's game very interesting, and it will tell us a lot, at the midway point, about exactly where we are," he said.

"We're coming up against a very good, organised and committed team on Saturday. Our work rate has to be right up there, and the quality of what we do has to be very accurate in order for us to get a result.

"We've got a lot of respect for Exeter. But I think that our team is evolving and developing, and I'm sure they'll show us a lot of respect as well."

Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has gone against tinkering too much with his winning formula, making four changes to the team that defeated the Scarlets 30-20 a week ago in the Heineken Cup

Three of those changes come in the back division where Luke Arscott, Jason Shoemark and Matt Jess all return, whilst up front the solitary difference in the pack sees Richard Baxter come in for the injured Tom Johnson at number eight.

Form: Gloucester's only loss in their last six games in all competitions was 23-28 at Saracens in the Aviva Premiership on 2 December. Gloucester have suffered just one home defeat at Kingsholm this season: 19-24 to Northampton on the opening weekend. Exeter Chiefs have won their last seven matches in all competitions since their 15-23 reversal to Bath at The Rec on 27 October - their best run since November 2009. The Chiefs have won their last three away games. The four previous Aviva Premiership encounters between the two clubs have been shared two wins apiece. The Chiefs won 28-27 on their most recent visit to Kingsholm on 24 March 2012.

The teams:

Gloucester 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan,7 Akapusi Qera,6 Sione Kalamafoni,5 Jim Hamilton (c), 4 Tom Savage, 3 Shaun Knight,2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood,
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Will James, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Tim Molenaar, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook (capt), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 James Hanks, 4 Aly Muldowney, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Simon Alcott, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Tom Hayes, 20 Ben White, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Ian Whitten.

Date: Saturday, December 22
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Robin Goodliffe
Television match official: David Hudson

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