Burns to spearhead Gloucester
December 31, 2010
Gloucester's last game ended in defeat to La Rochelle in the Amlin Challenge Cup © Getty Images
Both Leeds and Gloucester will be well rested when they face each other at the Headingley after an extended Christmas break.
Leeds' trip to Newcastle, originally scheduled for Boxing Day, was postponed twice in two days as the conditions at Kingston Park would not relent. Therefore Leeds have not been in Premiership action since November, after the European Challenge Cup commitments, and have not won in the league since April 25.
Gloucester's match against Northampton was also called off. Consequently, the sixth-placed Cherry and Whites have two games in hand on all of the teams above them apart from the table-topping Saints.
Leeds - Player to Watch: Steve Thompson will need to grab the Leeds pack by the scruff of the neck and set an example for them to follow up front.
Leeds - Team News: Andy Key and Neil Back have named the same side that was set to play Newcastle last weekend - with Ceiron Thomas at fullback and Lachlan Mackay at fly-half.
Gloucester - Player to Watch: England Under-20 international Freddie Burns is an exciting young talent and gets his chance to shine in the No.10 jersey.
Gloucester - Team News: Olly Morgan and James Simpson-Daniel return to add greater firepower in the backs, with Pierre Capdevielle named in the front-row in place of Paul Doran-Jones, who is unavailable for family reasons. Lock Dave Attwood has been suspended for two weeks by the club following his citing against La Rochelle and is replaced by Will James.
Key Battle: Burns' playmaking skills will be sorely tested by the physical Mackay and his prowess from the tee will also be highlighted with his battle against the accurate Thomas.
Trivia: Gloucester have won their last seven encounters with Leeds since the Yorkshiremen gained a 33-15 victory at Kingsholm on April 9, 2005
Stats: Gloucester prop Paul Doran-Jones has conceded the most defensive penalties in the Premiership with seven
"Not having a game can be a positive and a negative. Where we are at the moment you would probably call it slightly a negative because we were on a high and the players wanted to play." - Leeds boss Andy Key reflects on their postponed fixture against Newcastle.
"This is an absolute monster of a game for us. Leeds are fighting for their livelihoods, for jobs and for contracts. They'll be well up for it at the weekend." - Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath underlines the importance of the tie.
Fantasy: Ceiron Thomas has bagged 39 points so far this season in ESPNscrum's Fantasy Rugby Game - he'll likely be going for goal on numerous occasions this weekend.
Prediction: Leeds' search for a first victory in the Premiership this season to continue as Gloucester let loose at Headingley.
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