Preview: Gloucester v London Irish

Date published: December 31 2015

Following the 39-39 draw against Harlequins, Gloucester make six changes to their starting line-up for their home clash with London Irish.

Jonny May and Henry Trinder both sustained injuries in the game at Twickenham and are replaced by Henry Purdy and Bill Meakes respectively. The other change in the backs sees Willi Heinz come in for Greig Laidlaw who is named amongst the replacements.

In the pack, Nicky Thomas, who replaced the injured John Afoa against Harlequins, will continue at tighthead prop. Meanwhile, Nick Wood comes in for Dan Murphy and Tom Savage for Mariano Galarza.

Amongst the replacements, England number eight Ben Morgan returns and Paddy McAllister will cover the tighthead position.

Meanwhile, London Irish head coach Tom Coventry has named an unchanged starting XV from the side that played Northampton on Boxing Day.

Tom Court, David Paice and Ben Franks will start in the front-row with Will Lloyd, who was a late addition to the starting line-up last week in place of Nic Rouse, partnering captain Matt Symons in the second-row. Luke Narraway, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus are the back-row trio.

Brendan McKibbin and Chris Noakes are named at scrum-half and fly-half respectively with Johnny Williams and Canadian international Ciaran Hearn in the midfield. Aseli Tikoirotuma, Alex Lewington and Sean Maitland make up the back three. 

Gerard Ellis and Topsy Ojo are named among the replacements after missing the match against Northampton.

"The squad are buoyed after last Saturday's first win of the season. They have continued to work hard in training this week and know it will be another tough contest at Gloucester on Saturday. We look forward to the challenge," said Coventry.

Form: Gloucester's only defeat in their last seven first team fixtures came at Northampton in round 5 of Aviva Premiership Rugby. The Cherry and Whites have won their last four matches at Kingsholm in all tournaments since Saracens won there in Premiership Rugby on 23rd October. London Irish won their first Aviva Premiership Rugby match since April in overcoming the Saints at Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day. The Exiles have not won on the road in the tournament since they visited London Welsh on 28th February. Gloucester have won their last four encounters against London Irish since the Exiles 18-12 triumph at Kingsholm on 5th January 2013.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Nicky Thomas, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Paddy McAllister, 19 Ben Morgan, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Mark Atkinson.

London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway, 5 Will Lloyd, 4 Matt Symons (c), 3 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Topsy Ojo.

Date: Saturday, January 2
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury