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Gloucester Rugby make three changes for local derby at Bath

John Afoa returns to the Gloucester Rugby starting line up to take on Bath Rugby at the Rec in the Aviva Premiership on Friday evening, one of three changes to the side that started against Leicester last weekend.

Afoa will make his first appearance on 2016 having injured his calf against Harlequins in Big Game 8 at Twickenham on December 27th. He replaces Paul Doran-Jones.

Other changes see Steve McColl move to the left wing from full-back to replace David Halaifonua, with Bath-born Billy Burns taking over the 15 shirt. And, in the second row, Mariano Galarza comes in for Jeremy Thrush.

Aside from the usual question of local bragging rights, both teams come into this game bristling at having squandered decent leads last weekend – Gloucester were 12-0 up at home to Tigers while Bath led 13-0 at Saracens at half time before going down 13-19.

Director of Rugby David Humphreys, previewing the game with the media this week, acknowledged that a tough game lies ahead.

"We all know how disappointing it was to lose in the way we did, in the last minute. We're also very conscious that it was the first game of a ten game block in the Aviva Premiership. The season doesn't stand and fall on one defeat.

"We've got a huge challenge at Bath this weekend and that was a big factor in getting everyone's minds back on the task in hand. We're well aware of the challenge ahead.

"It's a tough one. But, it's probably fair to say at this stage, that every Premiership game will be tough when you see what's at stake at both ends of the table. One or two wins takes you up and, in the same way, one or two defeats can knock you down a couple of places.

"Hugely exciting this weekend. It's a game that everyone you meet looks forward to and we've got a great chance to bounce back from Saturday."

Gloucester Rugby:

Billy Burns; Charlie Sharples, Bill Meakes, Billy Twelvetrees (capt), Steve McColl; James Hook, Willi Heinz; Paddy McAllister, Richard Hibbard, John Afoa; Tom Savage, Mariano Galarza; Sione Kalamafoni, Jacob Rowan, Ben Morgan

Replacements:

Darren Dawidiuk, Nick Wood, Nicky Thomas, Elliott Stooke, Matt Kvesic, Callum Braley, Mark Atkinson, Ross Moriarty
 

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