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Preview: Gloucester v Newcastle Falcons

Preview: Gloucester v Newcastle Falcons

Spirits are high at Kingsholm and Henry Purdy is determined to ensure that translates into a clinical performance against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.

Gloucester Rugby are without a win in Aviva Premiership Rugby for four games – since beating London Welsh in February – but it has been a different story in Europe.

Eight straight wins, most recently 30-19 over Exeter Chiefs, have taken to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final, where they will meet Edinburgh next month.

But, in the meantime, attention switches back to the league and the Falcons – a side that beat Gloucester the last time they met, 20-10 at Kingston Park in November.

Newcastle have only achieved one season double over the Cherry & Whites since 1997 – during the 2011/12 season – and Purdy is eager to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

This week we are focused on the game at hand, we can’t look too far ahead,” he said. “This game is a big one, and we know how important it is to try and recreate what we did against Exeter.

“Newcastle are a quality side, they’ve been good all season. They’ve got a big, aggressive forward pack that are very strong and can cause problems, and they’ve got a lot of quality out wide as well – they’ve shown that on their new artificial pitch, guys like Sinoti Sinoti, Alex Tait, Alesana Tuilagi are all able to make breaks and score tries.

“We know it’s going to be a physical battle against them, so we have got to front up and play our game.

“With the talent they have got we know they will want to play some stuff out wide. We like to keep hold of the ball and use it as well though, we want to play as we proved we can against Exeter – it’s about replicating that for us now.”

Gloucester’s home form is impressive, unbeaten in their last eight encounters in all competitions, while Newcastle have slipped to five defeats on the bounce before this game.

Indeed, the Falcons have won just once away from home in Aviva Premiership Rugby since October 2013, while their record at Kingsholm is not much better – the North East outfit have won twice there in the history of the competition.

However, hooker George McGuigan believes their week off, while Gloucester were battling for a Challenge Cup final spot, has afforded them time for some crucial extra preparation.

“Last week was a bit different – we have shortened the week up, having half days and trying to keep everybody fresh,” he said.

“We did quite a bit of preparation for Gloucester last week so we have just been focusing on staying fresh.

“There has been a lot of focus on Gloucester for the last week and a half – this week has just been a continuation of the last. We have done a lot of our video analysis and we know what we are going to do.

“We know Gloucester are going to have their big forward pack trying to get around the corner and they have got a very fast back three. They were very impressive in that (European semi-final).

“But this year there is still stuff to play for. We are seeing it as a building opportunity and we don’t see the season as over.”

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(Kingsholm, 3pm)
Ian Tempest (7th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andy Watson & Wayne Falla. TMO: Keith Lewis.

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