Having missed out against Harlequins last weekend, Tom Marshall returns on the wing for Gloucester Rugby as one of half a dozen changes to the starting line-up for Friday evening’s European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 7:45pm).
Marshall, a try scorer in the quarter-final victory over Connacht last month, takes over from Charlie Sharples on the right wing in the only change to the back line from the side that started against Harlequins last Saturday.
There is a new look front row in Paddy McAllister, Motu Matu’u and Fraser Balmain, Ed Slater continues to skipper the side but will be partnered by Mariano Galarza in the second row. The final change sees Ruan Ackermann return in the back row.
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— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) April 19, 2018
The two teams have met three times competitively already this season, including just a few weeks ago in Aviva Premiership Rugby at Kingsholm, and Gloucester’s head coach Johan Ackermann knows there isn’t much to choose between the two sides.
“There’s obviously a lot at stake and both sides showed some good qualities last weekend. We’ve played each other three times already so not an unknown factor, both teams know each other quite well so it makes the contest quite intriguing.
“Newcastle are the one side to come and beat us at Kingsholm in the league which shows their quality, but we went there and beat them. So, it just shows how well balanced the two teams are.
“So, on the night it will probably be the team that’s the most focused and most accurate that will get the result. We can’t afford any complacency, the reality is that they’ll come down with a lot of confidence as they’re doing well in the Premiership and have beaten us here before.
“We have to make sure that we get out of the blocks and play well and don’t disrespect the opposition.”
Gloucester Rugby: 15. Jason Woodward; 14. Tom Marshall, 13. Billy Twelvetrees, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Henry Trinder; 10. Billy Burns, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Paddy McAllister, 2. Motu Matu’u, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Ed Slater (capt), 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Ruan Ackermann, 7. Jake Polledri, 8. Ben Morgan
Replacements: 16. James Hanson, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. John Afoa, 19. Freddie Clarke, 20. Lewis Ludlow, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Andy Symons, 23. Charlie Sharples
Unavailable for selection: Gareth Denman, Lloyd Evans, Willi Heinz, Richard Hibbard, Henry Purdy, Val Rapava Ruskin, Jacob Rowan, Ollie Thorley, Owen Williams