Gloucester Rugby welcome Bristol Bears to Kingsholm for Friday evening’s Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixture and make three changes to their starting line-up, all in the pack.
It’s the second West Country derby in succession for the Cherry and Whites who drew 31-31 against Bath Rugby at the Rec last weekend.
Set to make their first competitive starts for Gloucester Rugby are the South African summer signings of Franco Marais (hooker) and Gerbrandt Grobler (second row). The final change sees Jake Polledri come into the back row with Ruan Ackermann switching from the flank to number eight.
📋 TEAM NEWS
Grobler and Marais with first #GallagherPrem starts
Polledri comes into starting line up
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) September 12, 2018
Head Coach Johan Ackermann admitted that last weekend’s at Bath had been an eventful one, but a good learning experience.
“There were some highlights and some low moments. We were in control and then let it slip, but credit to the players for coming back and getting three points out of the game.
“As a group we learned a lot. We didn’t respect the ball enough, we lost possession in contact, we tried to force offloads. And one or two skill errors cost us, not just in terms of momentum but because they (Bath) got points from them.”
But this weekend, the Bristol Bears are the opposition and Ackermann admits that last year’s promotion winners are acquitting themselves well in the Gallagher Premiership.
“There is a bit more footage on them now that we can analyse, look at their strengths and see if there are any areas that we can hopefully exploit. But they’ve already shown what we knew before the season started – that they’ve going to be highly competitive, well coached and with a lot of X factor across the board.
“They’ve proved that at Saracens last weekend, they proved it in round one. They’re not here just to make up numbers in the competition, they’ve made it quite clear they want to stay in the Premiership and they’ve going to be highly motivated and very tough to beat. We’ll obviously have to be at our best.”
15. Jason Woodward; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Matt Banahan; 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Val Rapava Ruskin, 2. Franco Marais, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Ed Slater (capt), 5. Gerbrandt Grobler; 6. Jake Polledri, 7. Lewis Ludlow, 8. Ruan Ackermann
16. James Hanson, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. Ciaran Knight, 19. Freddie Clarke, 20. Ben Morgan, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Mark Atkinson, 23. Tom Hudson
Unavailable for selection:
Gareth Denman, Ruan Dreyer, Willi Heinz, Jaco Kriel, Tom Marshall, Paddy McAllister, Henry Purdy, Tom Savage, Ollie Thorley
Bristol Bears: 15. Piers O’Conor; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Siale Piutau, 12. Tusi Pisi, 11. Ryan Edwards; 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Shaun Malton, 3. John Afoa, 4. Joe Joyce, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua (c), 7. George Smith, 8. Jack Lam.
Replacements: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Jake Armstrong, 19. Ed Holmes, 20. Nick Haining, 21. Nic Stirzaker, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Zane Kirchner.
Unavailable: Jack Cosgrove (foot), Sione Faletau (calf), Lewis Thiede (knee), Aly Muldowney (neck), John Hawkins (thumb), Joe Latta (shoulder), Tiff Eden (shoulder), Alapati Leiua (back), Jack Tovey (knee), Mat Protheroe (knee), Charles Piutau (shoulder), Luke Daniels (hamstring).