Planet Rugby

Preview: Gloucester v Harlequins

28th March 2013 12:18

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Harlequins v Gloucester 2012

Shackled: Tom Casson

Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies makes one change to his backline and four in the pack to welcome Harlequins to Kingsholm.

Third in the Aviva Premiership table will play fifth as the race for top four places hots up, and the game at Kingsholm kicks off a weekend of key action.

The one change in the backs from the team that started against London Welsh last weekend, sees Henry Trinder replace Mike Tindall in the midfield as Gloucester continue to field an all English back line.

Up front, Koree Britton will make his first start in the Aviva Premiership at hooker, while Lua Lokotui returns to partner Jim Hamilton in the second row.

Meanwhile, Tom Savage and Akapusi Qera resume their usual positions as blindside and openside flanker respectively.

After three weeks without a game, Davies acknowledged that his team weren't initially at their best against London Welsh last weekend but will be looking for a more complete performance against Harlequins.

"We were probably a bit rusty, definitely didn't work to the patterns that we did earlier in the season, although we saw a bit of it towards the end of the game in the last 20 minutes when we opened it up again," said Davies.

"What we've done this week is look within ourselves as a group, just refocus on what's important to us and look at the individuals that we have within the team and what we're capable of.

"It's all about how we perform on Friday night. It's a big game, against a tough opponent who have been trailblazing over the last two or three years in terms of their performances and results. So, it'll be a big test for us.

"But we're still very much in the fight. It's about seeing what we can do, and taking our game to the next level."

Meanwhile, with just a five-day turnaround between the back-to-back away games, Harlequins make six changes to the starting line-up that lost to Saracens last Sunday.

Among the backs, Ross Chisholm comes in for Ugo Monye, while George Lowe and Tom Casson combine in the centres in place of Jordan Turner-Hall and Matt Hopper.

In the forwards, Rob Buchanan is named at hooker, with Olly Kohn returning from a hamstring injury to start in the second row.

With Chris Robshaw being rested for this fixture, Luke Wallace joins Tom Guest and Nick Easter, who captains the team, in the back-row.

Form: Quins will attempt to win at Kingsholm against Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership this weekend for the first time in 14 years as Conor O'Shea's men look to avoid losing a third straight league game. Harlequins have slipped to successive defeats at the hands of Exeter Chiefs and Saracens, adding no league points to their total in the process and have not lost three games in succession in the Premiership since early 2010. Gloucester's only defeat at Kingsholm in the Aviva Premiership since the opening weekend was to London Irish in January. Harlequins were victorious when the two clubs met at the Twickenham Stoop in round 8, but the Londoners have not won at Kingsholm in the Premiership since 13 February 1999.

The teams:

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

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Ross Chisholm, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter (c), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Matt Hopper.

Date: Saturday, 29 March
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Stuart Terheege
TMO: Geoffrey Warren

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PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00