Luke Morahan back for West Country derby

Date published: February 28 2019

Luke Morahan returns from injury to start in a highly anticipated West Country derby between Bristol Bears and Gloucester at Ashton Gate.

The Australian winger, who has been unavailable with a facial laceration, is one of five changes to the side that picked up a valuable bonus-point against Harlequins.

Andy Uren is the only other change to the backline, while Yann Thomas and Harry Thacker return to the front-row in the pack.

Dan Thomas is selected in the back-row as Bristol return to Ashton Gate for the visit of the Cherry and Whites.

Alapati Leiua will serve a four-week suspension and is available to play again from April 2.

Jack Lam returns to the 23-man squad as part of the replacements, while Mat Protheroe could make his first Premiership outing at Ashton Gate if he features.

Meanwhile, Gloucester make one change to their starting line-up for the local derby.

It’s the third Friday evening fixture in succession for the Cherry and Whites, and they will be looking to maintain their push for a top-four finish.

As mentioned, there is just the one alteration in the Gloucester starting line-up from the team that started against Saracens as Australian international hooker James Hanson comes into the front-row, with Franco Marais named amongst the replacements.

The one other change to the match-day squad sees loosehead prop Alex Seville named amongst the replacements.

Form: Bristol Bears have lost their last three Premiership matches since beating Newcastle Falcons 35-28 at Ashton Gate on 30 December. Bristol have a won four lost three record at home in Premiership Rugby this season. Gloucester have beaten the top two teams in the league in the last two rounds, lowering the colours of Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Kingsholm. Gloucester have won twice away from home in the league this season, at Wasps in Round Six and at Newcastle in Round 10. Bristol beat Gloucester 21-13 at Ashton gate in the Premiership Rugby Cup in November but have not been victorious over them in Premiership Rugby since a 29-26 win at Memorial Stadium in February 2008.

The teams:

Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau (cc), 11 Luke Daniels, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Jordan Crane (cc), 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steve Luatua, 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Batley, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 George Smith, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Mat Protheroe

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Jake Polledri, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Banahan

Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Tom Foley, Paul Dix
TMO: Claire Hodnett