Oct 23, 2015
Gloucester vs Saracens - Match Preview
Saracens travel to West Country to face Gloucester Rugby in round two of the Aviva Premiership. In a fixture that has traditionally thrown up all sorts of thrills and spills in the past with Gloucester edging meetings between the two side in Premiership rugby with 22 wins to Saracens 17.
Gloucester vs Saracens KO 19h45 (Live on BT Sport)
Here we preview tonight’s clash.
Mark McCall’s men started the season in the best possible fashion against the Sale Sharks and were the only side to secure a try scoring bonus point in Round 1. The performance has certainly laid a positive platform to work off and this weekend a few more key International players, Owen Farrell and Richard Wigglesworth will be returning to the squad to make the trip to Kingsholm.
Last weekend Gloucester Rugby travelled north and the boot of Billy Twelvetrees delivered 29 of their 39 points against the Newcastle Falcons. Kingston Park is always a tough venue to travel to however Gloucester carried through their pre-season confidence and delivered a much brighter start to the 2015/16 season than they did twelve months ago. Jonny May and James Hook are two notable names returning to their starting line up after their respective Rugby World Cup campaigns.
Mark McCall was pleased with last weekend’s opening fixture however he knows that Kingsholm and Gloucester Rugby will be a challenge;
“We played very well with our game being based on a solid foundation. Our set-piece was of a very high level and defensively we were really good. Gloucester are a vastly improved team and will have Jonny May and Ben Morgan back in their line-up. I have been impressed with their pre-season and it will be a very tough task at Kingsholm.”
David Humprehy’s is keen that Gloucester Rugby focused inwardly in these early rounds to deliver the type of consistency that he desires;
“The big focus for us at this stage of the season, at this early stage, is to make sure that we’re focussing on ourselves, concentrating on how we’re going to play, getting ourselves as best prepared as we can.”
Ones to watch – Saracens
Michael Rhodes started his Aviva Premiership career in the best possible fashion by delivering a try off a textbook driving maul just five minutes into the match against the Sale Sharks. Throughout Michael was industrious and physical and he looked as if he had been part of the Wolfpack for years as opposed to weeks.
Charlie Hodgson’s experience in the fly half jersey is unrivaled in the Aviva Premiership. Charlie is now just 17 points away reaching 2,500 domestic points and is out on his own at the top of the Aviva Premiership points scoring total. This weekend Charlie’s experience and coolness of character will be critical to facing the tenacious atmosphere that always greets sides at Kingsholm.
Tim Streather started his season on the right note last weekend dotting down for a try against the Sale Sharks. Tim’s a prolific back and at Kingsholm will combine strongly with Owen Farrell in the centres to provide the go forward required.
Ones to watch – Gloucester
John Afoa’s reputation and experience speaks for itself with 36 All Blacks caps and 13 years in the professional game. His power and mastery of the dark arts has delivered so much to Gloucester Rugby since his arrival last season and on Friday night will continue to provide them with the solid set piece they require.
James Hook’s 50 metre penalty last season decided the game and provided one of the most dramatic finishes of all during the 2014/15 season. This weekend he returns back from his short stint with Wales to take the reigns at 10 and as a result Billy Twelvetrees shifts to outside centre. James’ kicking game and range are huge assets that Saracens must be wary of throughout the eighty minutes.
After such a awful leg injury Ben Morgan’s recovery to be part of the recent Rugby World Cup was nothing short of phenomenal and with every game back the Number Eight is improving. Ben’s powerful carrying and physical defensive work means that he is more than a handful for any opposition and he’ll add greatly to Gloucester’s pack this weekend.
• 47 – the number of points scored during the last meeting between Gloucester and Saracens at Kingsholm
• 2007/08 – the last time Gloucester Rugby won their first two opening round fixtures
• 25 – the number of clean breaks Chris Ahston made in the 2014/15 season
• 38 – Saracens’ positive points difference after Round 1
• 1,418 – the number of appearances that the starting XV have made for Saracens
Gloucester Rugby: 15 Charlie Sharples 14 David Halaifonua 13 Billy Twelvetrees (C) 12 Billy Meakes 11 Jonny May 10 James Hook 9 Willi Heinz 1 Paddy McAllister 2 Richard Hibbard 3 John Afoa 4 Tom Savage 5 Sione Kalamafoni 6 Lewis Ludlow 7 Matt Kvesic 8 Ben Morgan Replace-ments: 16 Tom Lindsay 17 Yann Thomas 18 Paul Doran-Jones 19 Elliott Stooke 20 Jacob Rowan 21 Callum Braley 22 Steve McColl 23 Mark Atkinson
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode 14 Chris Ashton 13 Nick Tompkins 12 Owen Farrell 11 Mike Ellery 10 Charlie Hodgson 9 Neil de Kock 1 Mako Vunipola 2 Jamie George (C) 3 Petrus Du Plessis 4 George Kruis 5 Jim Hamilton 6 Michael Rhodes 7 Kelly Brown 8 Jackson Wray Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders 17 Rhys Gil 18 Titi Lamositele 19 Alistair Hargreaves 20 Will Fraser 21 Richard Wigglesworth 22 Nils Mordt 23 Ben Ransom