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Preview: Gloucester Rugby v Saracens

Preview: Gloucester Rugby v Saracens

Paddy McAllister’s home debut for Gloucester Rugby sees them take on reigning Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens and the prop is itching to test himself against the best.

Gloucester claimed a famous victory over Sarries in this corresponding fixture last year, James Hook booting over a last-gasp penalty to seal a dramatic win.

Kingsholm is sure to be rocking on Friday night with the BT Sport cameras in town and the Cherry & Whites come into the clash after victory at Newcastle Falcons in round one.

Gloucester have not lost at home in the league in 2015 and McAllister – who joined from Aurillac over the summer – cannot wait to sample the delights of the Shed atmosphere.

“The boys have told me a lot about Kingsholm and the Shed in particular, and having played at Ravenhill for Ulster I know how great it is to play in front of a noisy atmosphere – I can’t wait to get out there for my home debut,” he said.

“A challenge against Saracens is exactly what we want. We have had a great pre-season refining a lot of our phases and techniques and everyone’s champing at the to bit to play against the champions, and I don’t think there’s a better time to play them than your first home game of the season.

“I’ve played in the PRO12 for the majority of my career, I’ve heard a lot of talk about how tough scrums are in the Premiership and it didn’t disappoint.

“You relish the opportunities when you’re out there to nail the set-piece and the scrum – and I think we did that against Newcastle. We came away happy with what we achieved and it’s a good platform to build on.”

Having won at Kingston Park last Friday, Gloucester are looking to begin the season with back-to-back wins for the first time since the 2007/08 campaign.

Saracens were the only side in round 1 to gain a maximum-point victory, overcoming Sale 41-3. They have also won at least their opening two fixtures of a season every year since 2011/12.

And scrum-half Neil de Kock is out for revenge after last season’s tough loss in the final minute.

“Gloucester last season was tough, there was an offside call for Chris Ashton and then they kicked the penalty in the last minute,” he added. 

“That was a turning point for them if you look at where they went to from there – nearly qualifying for Europe.

“They are going to be a formidable team this year. Our squad is under quite a lot of pressure but coming up against teams that will be full strength and will target us.

“Early on in the season we need to be flying from the start and we have got a good squad.

“For me it is about trying to add value where I can, obviously to try and push for a playing spot and we will see how it goes, hopefully the body stays in one piece!” 

Kingsholm, 7.45pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Matt Carley (33rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding & Roy Maybank. TMO: Stuart Terheege.

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