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Preview: Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby

Preview: Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby

Having experienced both sides of the West Country derby during his career, Gloucester Rugby lock James Hudson knows exactly what is at stake against Bath Rugby at the Rec this weekend.

The 33-year-old started his career at Bath before spells at London Irish and Newcastle Falcons that preceded his move back to the south west with Gloucester in 2013.

With the hosts already guaranteed a home Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final and the Cherry & Whites able to finish eighth at best, it could appear there is little to play for but Hudson insists that is far from the case.

Both sides will be looking to build momentum ahead of a crucial period, with Bath gearing up for the semi-finals and Gloucester preparing for a key European play-off after their Challenge Cup victory.

And if those were not incentives enough, Hudson admits his side will be motivated to end a recent streak that has seen Bath triumph in the last five West Country derbies in all competitions.

“I know exactly what it’s like to play in these West Country derbies having been in both shirts so I know how much it means and it’s a huge event for the fans,” he said.

“Going there at this time of year is especially tough, even though we’ve had good success in winning some European silverware, we’ve not been where we would like to be in the Premiership.

“Bath have already had a very successful year and having lost at home to them we want to make sure we give a good account of ourselves at the Rec.

“They’re one of the teams that have been playing consistently well throughout the year and that’s put them where they are in the table.

“We’ve got to make sure our set piece functions well to give us a foothold and then also worry about their attacking threat.”

Bath have won their last five fixtures in Aviva Premiership Rugby and are the best team on current form, dropping just two possible league points in that sequence.

Mike Ford’s side will also be looking to protect an impressive home record this season that has seen them lose just one game, against leaders Northampton Saints in Round 15.

Yet winger Semesa Rokoduguni is wary of a Gloucester side in fine form of their own, inspired by the likes of fellow England internationals Jonny May and Billy Twelvetrees.

 “Gloucester are playing really good rugby at the moment so we don’t want to lose focus on this game coming up and that has been the message this week,” he said.

“If we can get everything right this weekend against Gloucester, that is going to give us the best chance to get it right in the semi-final as well.

“We are treating every game as a big one – it’s a big derby week which makes it extra special at the end of the season for us.

“They have played some good rugby, and have got very decent players, guys like Jonny May and Charlie Sharples out wide and Billy Twelvetrees. But the boys are prepared well for these big names.”

Recreation Ground, 3.30pm

Referee: Dean Richards (80th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart and Simon McConnell. TMO: Stuart Terheege.

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