Ben Morgan return boosts struggling Gloucester

Date published: February 11 2021

There are two Premiership matches scheduled for Friday as Gloucester face Bristol Bears at Kingsholm and Sale Sharks host Bath at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Gloucester v Bristol Bears

George Skivington has named his side to face Bristol Bears in the West Country derby on Friday night.

Ben Morgan makes a welcome return from injury and is named on the bench alongside Santiago Socino who is set to make his debut for Gloucester.

The backline is unchanged from the last fixture against London Irish with Willi Heinz starting at scrum-half and Billy Twelvetrees at 10.

Mark Atkinson and Henry Trinder link up in the midfield with Ollie Thorley, Jason Woodward and Santiago Carreras in the back three.

There are five changes in the forwards from last week with Val Rapava-Ruskin, Henry Walker and Fraser Balmain starting in the front-row with Matt Garvey and Matias Alemanno behind them at lock.

In the back-row, Jamie Gibson starts at blindside flanker with Freddie Clarke starting at number eight and Lewis Ludlow, who continues the captaincy, wearing the seven shirt.

Gloucester has named a strong bench with Giorgi Kveseladze looking to follow up his impressive performance on debut. Kyle Moyle, Charlie Chapman, Alex Craig, Jamal Ford-Robinson and Alex Seville are all listed as replacements.

For Bristol, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro will make his first start for the club on Friday.

The Argentinian international is one of three changes to Pat Lam’s side for the West Country derby at Kingsholm.

Luke Morahan returns to the back three in the only change to the backline, while Jake Heenan starts in the back-row in place of the unavailable Steven Luatua.

Andy Uren is set to make his 100th competitive appearance for the club, having graduated through the Bristol academy, while Fitz Harding is listed among the replacements for the round nine encounter.

Form: Gloucester have not been victorious in Premiership Rugby since beating Wasps at Kingsholm in Round Two. The Cherry & Whites have lost their last three home games in the tournament, their worst run at Kingsholm since 2016. Bristol Bears’ six game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended with their home defeat to Sale last Friday. Bristol have won their last three away games in all competitions, their best sequence on the road since they were playing in England’s second tier in season 2017/18. Bristol have won their last five fixtures against Gloucester in all competitions since Gloucester’s 35-13 victory at Kingsholm in Premiership Rugby in September 2018. The Bears have won only twice at Kingsholm in Premiership Rugby, in March 2006 and August 2020.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Santiago Carreras, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Freddie Clarke, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Henry Walker, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Giorgi Kveseladze, 23 Kyle Moyle

Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Jake Heenan, 5 Chris Vui, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 John Afoa (c), 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Fitz Harding, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Alapati Leiua

Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Simon Harding, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Rose

Sale Sharks v Bath

Sale Sharks have named their side to face Bath as director of rugby Alex Sanderson makes 10 changes to the starting XV that downed high flying Bristol Bears last weekend.

Club stalwart Ross Harrison brings a wealth of experience to the Sharks pack as he returns to the starting line-up alongside Curtis Langdon and Springbok international Coenie Oosthuizen in the front-row.

As the Sharks prepare for another physical encounter with Bath at the AJ Bell Stadium, the Sale coaching team opt to deploy a new-look Sale second-row with JP du Preez teaming up with James Phillips for the first time this season.

Jono Ross captains the side from openside flanker and is joined in the back-row by powerhouse twins Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez.

In a re-shuffle of the Sale backline, only Sam Hill and Byron McGuigan remain in the starting line-up for the match. Will Cliff reclaims the number nine shirt and takes his place alongside Robert du Preez at half-back.

Hill continues to thrive at inside centre and is joined in the midfield by former England U20 captain Conor Doherty in the pair’s first outing together.

McGuigan is released from Six Nations camp to take his place on the wing with Tom Roebuck and Simon Hammersley joining the Scotland winger in an exciting Sale back three.

Meanwhile, Will Muir is set to make his first Bath start against Sale at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The Blue, Black and White will be looking for the former England Sevens man to inject pace and attacking dynamism into the team once again.

Semesa Rokoduguni retains his position on the right wing with Tom de Glanville completing the back three at full-back.

There has been consistency in selection in the centres, with Bath opting for Josh Matavesi at inside centre and Max Clark setting up outside the Fijian.

World Cup finalist Ben Spencer will marshal his forwards from scrum-half with the experienced Rhys Priestland controlling affairs from his customary fly-half spot.

The front-row is unchanged from last weekend’s outing against Harlequins as Juan Schoeman starts at loosehead prop with Christian Judge holding up the other side of the scrum. England-capped Tom Dunn maintains his role at hooker.

Fit again Josh McNally returns to the fold to captain the team from the second-row, locking down alongside Zimbabwe-born Mike Williams.

In the back-row, Josh Bayliss returns to his more familiar role of blindside flanker with Miles Reid operating at seven. Zach Mercer completes the pack at number eight.

The Bath coaching team have chosen a five-three bench split as Jack Walker, Jamie Bhatti and former Sale Shark Henry Thomas provide the replacement front-row cover. Ewan Richards, who made his club debut last weekend, joins Ethan Staddon as additional forward support.

The ever-present Will Chudley is set to win his 50th club cap if he takes over at nine, with newcomer Tian Schoeman the reserve fly-half.

Alex Gray, the former NFL and England Sevens player, is named amongst the replacements for the first time and should he be called upon, will make his debut.

Form: Sale Sharks have won their last four Premiership Rugby encounters since their home defeat to Wasps in Round Four and have not won five in succession in the competition since 2006. Bath have lost their last four Premiership Rugby fixtures, they have not lost five in succession in the competition since 2002. Bath’s only away win in any tournament since September was 33-17 at Worcester in Round Three of Premiership Rugby. Bath have lost just once in their last five fixtures against Sale – 3-6 at AJ Bell Stadium in April 2019. Bath’s two victories in Salford in Premiership Rugby were in September 2014 and September 2020.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Conor Doherty, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Tom Roebuck, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jono Ross (c), 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 JP du Preez, 4 James Phillips, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements:
16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Valerey Morozov, 18 WillGriff John, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Luke James

Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Will Muir, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Josh Bayliss, 5 Mike Williams, 4 Josh McNally (c), 3 Christian Judge, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Ewan Richards, 20 Ethan Staddon, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Alex Gray

Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher