Preview: Gloucester v Brive

Date published: October 15 2014

Australian Billy Meakes will make his first Gloucester start, with Brive the visitors to Kingsholm in the Challenge Cup opener.

Australian Billy Meakes will make his first Gloucester start, with Brive the visitors to Kingsholm in the opening round of the European Challenge Cup.

Meakes has been a regular feature in the first-team squad since joining the club in February, and was a star of the club’s Sevens exploits in the summer, but will get his first start at thirteen.

His inclusion is one of just three changes to the side that started at Saracens last Saturday as Gloucester look for continuity on Thursday.

The other new faces are Yann Thomas, who, although he has featured in all six Premiership matches, makes his first start of the season at loosehead, and James Hudson who is at lock.

Gloucester will be looking to maintain the progress that they have made as a side in recent weeks and build on a series of improving performances in the Aviva Premiership.

That won’t be straightforward against an unfamiliar opponent in Brive, a fact acknowledged this week by director of rugby David Humphreys.

“The difficulty this week is that we don’t know what sort of team Brive are going to send across. They’ve come off the back of some tough Top 14 games, so we’re in a very similar position,” he said.

“We’re just don’t know the opposition as well as we do every week in the Premiership. So, as we’ve talked about a lot in the last six weeks, we’ve focused very much on ourselves and about how we’re going to play.

“It is difficult coming off the back of a five day turnaround and two such tough games. But, at the same time, both teams are in the same situation so we’ve just got to go out and treat it as we would any normal game.

“We’re excited about the new competition, we’re excited about a different style of play. We’re excited about what are probably going to be different challenges and pressures. But we’re looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Brive have named a much-changed line-up for their Challenge Cup opener.

Just two players from the XV that lost narrowly at Grenoble in the Top 14 remain in the side, with Thomas Sanchou and Riaan Swanepoel starting at centre and fly-half respectively.

Former Western Force wing Alfie Mafi has been moved to number fifteen in place of Gaetan Germain while Sisa Koyamaibole and Benito Masilevu miss out from the matchday 23.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 James Hudson, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Mark Atkinson.

Brive: 15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Elia Radikedike, 13 Baptiste Delage, 12 Thomas Sanchou, 11 Guillaume Namy, 10 Riaan Swanepoel, 9 Nicolas Bezy, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Hugues Briatte, 5 Russlan Boukerou, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Damien Jourdain, 2 Louis Acosta, 1 Karlen Asieshvili.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Damien Lavergne, 18 Yusuf Tuncer, 19 Victor Lebas, 20 Fabien Sanconnie, 21 Damien Neveu, 22 Anderson Neisen, 23 Hugo Veyssiere.

Date: Thursday, October 16
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Venue: Kingsholm Stadium
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters (England)
Assessor: Jim Fleming (Scotland)