Preview: Gloucester v London Irish

Date published: May 2 2014

Club captain Tom Savage will return to Gloucester's squad for the first time since November when they host London Irish.

Club captain Tom Savage returns to Gloucester's matchday squad for the first time since November when they host London Irish at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Savage is named amongst the replacements, so Billy Twelvetrees continues to skipper the side which shows three changes to the starting line up from last time out against London Wasps.

The back-line is unchanged. However, Yann Thomas and Sila Puafisi take over from Nick Wood and Shaun Knight in the front row and Will James, in his final Premiership appearance at Kingsholm, will start in the second row.

Seventh place, and a potential European play off, is still on the cards for the Cherry and Whites. However, results elsewhere would have to go Gloucester's way.

Looking ahead to the game, Forwards Coach Andrew Stanley acknowledged that the side are focused on finishing as high as possible, but performance and result come first.

“It remains mathematically possible, and that's what we've prepared for. We've had a good week's training, we've just got to convert it into a performance on Saturday.

“First and foremost we've got to put in a positive performance, hopefully get the win on the back of it and see where it takes us.

“There are a number of players for whom it'll possibly be their last performance at Kingsholm. Some of those players have been here a long time so there is a driver there. We obviously want to give those players a good send off so they go away with the right memories.”

Stanley also stressed that the visitors will pose a tough challenge and demand the utmost respect.

“There aren't any easy games and Irish's recent scorelines, even against the top sides, have proved that. They're very competitive.

“We're not taking anything for granted as far as London Irish are concerned. We'll give them the respect they deserve but we're looking for a performance befitting of our last appearance at Kingsholm.”

Meanwhile, London Irish full-back Tom Homer will make his 100th appearance for the club when he takes the field in this encounter.

It has been a frustrating year for the 23-year-old who has suffered with a groin injury throughout the 2013/14 season, but he is fit to start after a solid second half performance against Northampton in the last round.

Homer will start in the back three alongside Marland Yarde and Andrew Fenby with Fergus Mulchrone and Eamonn Sheridan in the centre. Ian Humphreys and Tomás O'Leary will form an Irish halfback combination with the scrum-half captaining the side in the absence of Shane Geraghty and George Skivington.

Matt Parr, Jimmy Stevens and Leo Halavatau start in the front row with Ian Gough in the second row to join Nic Rouse. Kieran Low, Jebb Sinclair and Chris Hala'ufia will start together in the back row.

London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith said: “I'm really happy with our preparations this week, we've had a few disruptions with injuries but the players coming in have all stepped up.

“It's nice to see Tom get his 100th cap and it's also good to welcome back Chris Hala'ufia to the fold.

“The players are excited by the challenge of playing Gloucester at Kingsholm and it will be a memorable day for Tom Smallbone, another Academy player getting his chance this weekend.”

Form: Gloucester must win to keep alive their faint hopes of a 7th placed finish and a potential play-off with their Top-14 equivalent for a place in Europe. Gloucester have lost their last three matches in all competitions since beating Exeter 14-13 at Sandy Park on March 29. London Irish's only win in their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters was 40-12 at home to Newcastle in Round 19, whilst they have not won away from home in the tournament since a visit to London Wasps on February 15. The last three meetings between the two clubs in the Premiership have strangely been won by the away team on the day. The Exiles are attempting to win back to back competition matches at Kingsholm, for the first time.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Will James, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Tom Young, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Shane Monahan.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary (c), 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Leo Halavatau; 2 Jimmy Stevens, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Gerard Ellis, 21 Alex Lewington, 22 Myles Dorrian, 23 Darren Allinson.

Date: Saturday 3 May
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Steve Lee
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden and Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Rowan Kitt.