Match of the week - Gloucester v Wasps
March 13, 2009
Carlos Spencer is in action for Gloucester again this weekend © Getty Images
At Kingsholm on Saturday there is a heavyweight encounter in the offing as Gloucester host Wasps. Gloucester will be out to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Leicester last weekend while Wasps will be eager to build upon their victory over London Irish last time out.
With Gloucester still top and Wasps' play-off hopes hanging by a thread there could well be fireworks at Kingsholm.
Gloucester boss Dean Ryan has made three changes from the side that lost to Leicester last weekend, with lock Will James, flanker Andy Hazell and centre Anthony Allen all returning. There is also a notable return on the bench, with Fijian openside Akapusi Qera returning to competitive action for the first time this season after rupturing knee ligaments playing for Fiji last summer.
Rory Lawson and Carlos Spencer start at halfback, with Olly Barkley returning from the England squad to start at inside-centre.
"Wasps will know they probably haven't got that many more chances to lose games if they want to compete in the play-offs but that probably makes them even more dangerous opponents," said Ryan. "They have been winning games over the recent weeks and months and have made an art-form of producing results when it really matters - we are under no illusions about that."
Wasps have called on Richard Birkett to replace Simon Shaw, who is on Six Nations duty with England, while Eoin Reddan starts at scrum-half after Mark Robinson was ruled out through injury. Reddan partners Danny Cipriani at halfback, with Josh Lewsey and Dominic Waldouck in the centre. Tom Rees, Serge Betsen and John Hart are again in action in the back-row. Kiwi lock Marty Veale could make his debut for the club after being named on the bench.
Gloucester: Morgan; Balshaw, Allen, Barkley, Sharples; Spencer, Lawson; Wood, Azam, Somerville, James, Brown, Narraway, Hazell, Delve (capt)
Replacements: Titterrell, Forster, Eustace, Qera, Lamb, Watkins, Foster.
Wasps: Van Gisbergen; Mitchell, Waldouck, Lewsey, Voyce; Cipriani, Reddan; Payne, Webber, Barnard; Birkett, Skivington; Betsen (capt), Rees, Hart
Replacements: Ward, Beech, Veale, Leo, Simpson, Walder, Odejobi