Gloucester look to bounce back to form
April 20, 2009
Carlos Spencer returns to the Gloucester No.10 shirt for the local derby with Worcester © Getty Images
Gloucester play host to Worcester at Kingsholm on Tuesday night in a re-arranged Guinness Premiership clash.
Head coach Dean Ryan has made several changes to his starting line-up following their 50-12 mauling at the hands of Cardiff Blues in Saturday's Anglo-Welsh Cup Final at Twickenham. The challenge of playing two fixtures in four days means that Ryan has to rely upon the depth of his squad particularly with the final round of the regular season approaching on Saturday.
There is a new half back pairing as Carlos Spencer, cup tied on Saturday, returns to the No.10 shirt and partners Gareth Cooper. Mike Tindall and Iain Balshaw are both still unavailable for selection but Olly Barkley starts at inside centre and Charlie Sharples comes in for Olly Morgan at fullback.
Up front, there is a new look front row in Alasdair Dickinson, Scott Lawson and Carlos Nieto and Adam Eustace comes into the second row but Greg Somerville, Alex Brown, Luke Narraway, Akapusi Qera and Gareth Delve remain. And Ryan Lamb was a late withdrawal from the replacements and will be replaced by Henry Trinder.
Results over the weekend leave Gloucester currently in sixth place in the table but a bonus point win would lift the Cherry and Whites to third place based on games won.
Willie Walker returns to the Worcester side to face his previous employers. Walker, who has been on loan from parent club Gloucester since February, will play at fullback as Director of Rugby Mike Ruddock makes three changes to the side that defeated Brive in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Walker's return means New Zealand speedster Rico Gear moves back to the wing with Miles Benjamin among the replacements. Lock Will Bowley misses the game with a foot injury and so home-grown talent Graham Kitchener, who last week agreed a two-year contract extension, partners Greg Rawlinson in the second row.
Back row Kai Horstmann is also ruled out of action with a broken rib and so his place at No.8 goes to Fiji international Netani Talei. David Lyons and James Collins are both promoted to the replacements bench for Ruddock's men as they look to complete the derby double over local rivals Gloucester.
"It could be an opportunity for us to get stuck into them," said Ruddock last week. "Our defence will have to be on form. It's been pleasing that in our last couple of games we've shown a little more consistency with our defence.
"We've still let in the odd couple of tries, so obviously we're still working towards getting a clean sheet as often as we can. We are also hoping that we're not just relying on defence - we want to go there and play some rugby.
"We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain - that will be my message to the boys. We will go and play some rugby against Gloucester, keep hold of the ball a bit, try and run our phases, build our game and really try and stretch them as well."
Gloucester: Charlie Sharples; Matthew Watkins, James Simpson-Daniel, Olly Barkley, Mark Foster; Carlos Spencer, Gareth Cooper; Alasdair Dickinson, Scott Lawson, Carlos Nieto; Adam Eustace, Alex Brown; Luke Narraway, Akapusi Qera, Gareth Delve (capt)
Replacements: Olivier Azam, Greg Somerville, Marco Bortolami, Apo Satala, Rory Lawson, Ryan Lamb, Olly Morgan
Worcester: Willie Walker; Marcel Garvey, Alex Grove, Dale Rasmussen, Rico Gear; Matthew Jones, Ryan Powell; Callum Black, Aleki Lutui, Darren Morris, Greg Rawlinson, Graham Kitchener, Tom Wood, Pat Sanderson (c), Netani Talei
Replacements: Shaun Ruwers, Chris Fortey, David Lyons, James Collins, Jonny Arr, Loki Crichton, Miles Benjamin