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Gloucester Rugby name side for Friday night trip to Northampton

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Gloucester Rugby make five changes to their starting line-up as they return to Aviva Premiership action for Friday evening’s fixture away at Northampton Saints.

After two weeks in European competition, the Cherry and Whites face up to English opposition once again as they travel to Franklin’s Gardens hoping to extend a three game unbeaten run.

There is just one new face in the backs as Mark Atkinson reclaims the inside centre berth. Billy Twelvetrees moves across to fly-half to replace Billy Burns.

The rest of the changes are in the pack. Richard Hibbard returns at hooker and Mariano Galarza is back in the boiler room alongside Tom Savage. In the back row, Jacob Rowan and Ben Morgan replace Matt Kvesic and Lewis Ludlow respectively.

Amongst the replacements, Salesi Ma’afu will be coming up against one of his former clubs while Henry Purdy returns to the matchday squad after injury.

Both teams will be looking to move up the table, and the overall head to head record between the two is incredibly close.

Speaking to the local media, Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressed that Gloucester are on an upward curve but is well aware that Saints on their own patch are a tough nut to crack.

“Over the last three weeks, we’ve improved. Our performances have got better and better. And now it’s a case of going back into what we know is a huge game for us against a team that has had a similar start to us this season, but a team who we know have got very good players.

“We’ve only played six games in the league this season and two wins can move you from 10th to 4th. Then it’s a very different conversation. None of us like being towards the bottom of the table, but all you can do is, going into next week, make sure you’ve prepared very well.

“We’re coming off the back of a good run of games, our focus has been very much on making sure that some of those good things we’ve delivered over the last few weeks are even better going into the Northampton match.

“It’s a case of us ensuring that, for every game we go into, we’ve prepared well and given ourselves the best possible chance to win. But, also bearing in mind that we’re going to play what is a very good team. It’s a huge challenge for us but one that we’re in a better place now to meet.”

Gloucester Rugby:

15. James Hook; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Matt Scott, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Jonny May; 10. Billy Twelvetrees, 9. Greig Laidlaw (capt); 1. Paddy McAllister, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. John Afoa; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Ross Moriarty, 7. Jacob Rowan, 8. Ben Morgan

Replacements:

16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. Salesi Ma’afu, 19. Joe Latta, 20. Matt Kvesic, 21. Willi Heinz, 22. Billy Burns, 23. Henry Purdy

Unavailable for selection:

Josh Hohneck, Darren Dawidiuk, Tom Lindsay, Paul Doran-Jones, Jeremy Thrush, Tom Denton, Gareth Evans, Sione Kalamafoni, Andy Symons, Henry Trinder, Tom Marshall

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