Gloucester v Saracens preview: Both sides targeting back-to-back wins
• Gloucester and Saracens both picked up victories on the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership
• Cherry and Whites make five changes to the team that won away at Newcastle last Friday
• Alterations see England internationals Jonny May and Ben Morgan come into the starting XV
• Sarries make four changes with England trio Owen Farrell, George Kruis and Mako Vunipola returning to the team
After both securing wins on the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership season, Gloucester and Saracens lock horns at Kingsholm on Friday night in the Cherry and Whites first home outing of the season.
Gloucester, who were 39-27 winners away at Newcastle last weekend, won six of their 11 games at Kingsholm last term and are unbeaten there so far in 2015. That run includes a slender 24-23 win against eventual champions and this weekend’s opponents Saracens compliments of a last gasp penalty from James Hook.
Sarries endured a lousy season on their travels last term, winning just two matches outside of the Capital against Newcastle and Wasps respectively. They did, however, win their three local derbies away from home with successes against both London Irish and Welsh as well as Harlequins.
The reigning champions have therefore made changes to try and ensure they are at full power with England trio Owen Farrell, George Kruis and Mako Vunipola returning to the team at the expense of Rhys Gill, Maro Itoje and Duncan Taylor
Club captain Alistair Hargreaves also returns to the matchday squad as the lock, who missed out totally on their 41-3 thrashing of Sale last weekend, is named among the replacements following Achilles trouble.
The hosts have also rung the changes, making five alterations to the team that started in the North East Seven days previous.
Two of the switches see England’s Jonny May, and Ben Morgan come into the fold while David Halaifonua, James Hook and Sione Kalamafoni are also given their first starts of the season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The pair of Captains will play pivotal roles for their respective teams in Friday night’s highly anticipated Aviva Premiership clash.
Gloucester: Billy Twelvetrees
Although Twelvetrees notched 29 points from the tee in Gloucester’s opening weekend win against Newcastle; it was his all-around play and composure on the ball that made him the standout player up in the North East. Against the reigning champions, the Cherry and Whites will have to be patient on the ball and the centre will play a fundamental role in doing that with his steady hands and pin-point passing.
Saracens: Jamie George
Fresh from a Man of the Match performance in Saracens’ round one 41-3 defeat of Sale Sharks, George will lead the North Londoners against the Cherry and Whites alongside Mako Vunipola and Petrus Du Plessis in the front row. After the visitors struggle away from home last season, it will be imperative they win the battle up front to give their exciting backs a base to play off.
Gloucester: 15.Sharples; 14.Halaifonua, 13.Twelvetrees (capt), 12.Meakes, 11.May; 10.Hook, 9.Heinz; 1.McAllister, 2.Hibbard, 3.Afoa, 4.Savage, 5.Kalamafoni, 6.Ludlow, 7.Kvesic, 8.Morgan.
Replacements: 16.Lindsay, 17.Thomas, 18.Doran-Jones, 19.Stooke, 20.Rowan, 21.Braley, 22.McColl, 23.Atkinson.
Saracens: 15.Goode; 14.Ashton, 13.Streather, 12.Farrell, 11.Ellery; 10.Hodgson, 9.de Kock; 1.M Vunipola, 2.George (capt), 3.du Plessis, 4.Kruis, 5.Hamilton, 6.Rhodes, 7.Brown, 8.Wray.
Replacements: 16.Saunders, 17.Gill, 18.Lamositele, 19.Hargreaves, 20.Fraser, 21.Wigglesworth, 22.Tompkins, 23.Ransom.
Date: Friday, October 22 (BT Sport)
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Referee: Matt Carley (33rd Premiership game)
Assistant referees: Simon Harding & Roy Maybank
Television match official: Stuart Terheege