Exiles eye third win on the spin
September 29, 2011
Charlie Sharples impressed in England's pre-World Cup training camp and has continued that form into the new season © Getty Images
It's sixth against fifth in the Aviva Premiership as Gloucester take on London Irish in front of the ESPN cameras at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts will be on a high after bouncing back from their humiliating defeat at the Stoop a fortnight ago with a fine 23-6 victory in their west country derby against Bath. The Cherry and Whites started sluggishly but ultimately underlined why they are such a formidable prospect on home soil with a thoroughly deserved win which was founded on a tremendous effort from the forwards.
The Exiles, though, will be looking forward to their trip to Kingsholm. After opening their campaign with back-to-back defeats they have now won two on the bounce, having edged out Northampton at Franklin's Gardens before overcoming Newcastle Falcons in a high-scoring affair at the Madjeski last weekend. That latter success left head coach Toby Booth struggling to come up with enough superlatives for young guns Jonathan Joseph and Tom Homer and he will be hoping that the pair prove just as influential in the cauldron that is Kingsholm.
Gloucester - Player to Watch: Luke Narraway was disappointed not to have been closer consideration for England's World Cup campaign, but has had to wait until now to prove his point to the selectors.
Gloucester - Team News: Narraway will make his first start of the season at openside flanker alongside Peter Buxton and Brett Deacon in the back-row. Scrum-half Dave Lewis and winger James Simpson-Daniel return to the matchday squad while Jonny May partners Henry Trinder in midfield.
London Irish - Player to Watch: Jonathan Joseph was in supreme form as he scored two tries and tore Newcastle apart at Kingston Park and he'll be hoping maintain that run against a fast and talented Gloucester backline.
London Irish - Team News: Irish make two changes to the side that beat Newcastle last weekend with Max Lahiff and James Sandford coming in for Leo Halavatau and Matt Garvey at prop and second-row. Faan Rautenbach and Jamie Gibson have returned from injury to be named as replacements.
Key Battle: Gloucester's Tim Taylor and Irish's Dan Bowden are contrasting figures at fly-half but both central to their side's prospects. Bowden is a skillful ball player and sinuous runner while Taylor will look to give Gloucester structure and feed his quick man outside early.
Trivia: These two sides have never played out a draw in 34 previous Premiership meetings.
Stats: Tom Homer currently tops the points-scoring charts, having aleady racked up 68 points for the Exiles.
"It'll be tough. London Irish are similar to us. They've had some good games and some where they probably feel they didn't perform so well. They'll be pretty fired up coming to Gloucester as there's nothing to lose."
"It was pleasing to get a bonus point win last week but this week we are provided with a different test. Playing Gloucester at Kingsholm is always a challenge and one that we are looking forward to it"
Prediction: Gloucester will continue their upswing in form as their superior muscle and aggression upfront proves gives their backs the platform
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