Gloucester v Bath: Teams

At Kingsholm, Saturday May 10, live on Sky Sports 2 from 2.30pm

By Joe Drabble   Last updated: 10th May 2008  

Gloucester v Bath: Teams

Vainikolo: Set for Kingsholm comeback

This is a huge game for us and we will be ready for what should be a fantastic occasion.

Dean Ryan
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Gloucester have made two changes to their side as they prepare to face red-hot Bath at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Lesley Vainikolo and Gareth Delve will both return in the only changes to Dean Ryan's starting line-up from the side that beat Wasps 25-17 last Sunday.

Vainikolo returns from a hamstring strain picked up against Saracens which means Iain Balshaw moves to full-back because Olly Morgan is ruled out with a dead leg. Delve will start at No.8 against his former club with Luke Narraway dropping to the bench.

The rest of the line-up remains intact from the one that scored three tries at Adams Park - that means a single point on Saturday will guarantee Gloucester a home tie in the play-off semi-finals.

"These games are one-offs," said head coach Ryan. "I think it will be pretty special between two clubs who are capable of playing some rugby and that is a great testament to the Guinness Premiership as a whole.

"We made a statement against Wasps, but it's not like we have crossed that hurdle and won't make a mistake again.

"We want to finish top because that would mean a huge amount to us over a nine-month season and then we can move into the play-offs. This is a huge game for us and we will be ready for what should be a fantastic occasion.

"If both teams turn up and play then it could be a great game."

Marco Bortolami will skipper the side from the second row alongside Alex Brown, while Akapusi Qera, Alasdair Strokosch and Delve will be the back row.

Important

Bath travel to Kingsholm for arguably their most important game of the season on the back of a devastating 66-21 over Saracens at the Rec.

With the semi-final location hanging on the final score line of this match, Bath will be looking to continue with their impressive performances and clinch another victory.

The visitors have made two changes to last weekend's squad for the trip to the league leaders. Having received treatment for a hamstring injury, Nick Abendanon is rested for the clash, and hat-trick scorer Tom Cheeseman, takes the place of Alex Crockett - who now moves to the bench.

Bath overcame Gloucester 10-5 earlier in the season and head coach Steve Meehan is hoping his side can go on and clinch what no other side has done over Ryan's men this season - a league double.

"Both sides have played some good attractive rugby over the course of this season and both sides like to score tries," said Meehan.

"They will be aggressive in their decision making and we will see plenty of ball movement.

"Their forward pack is getting better and better as the season progresses and that is always a dangerous thing.

"Ryan Lamb is someone who is widely spoken about and who is very important to their team. They have threats all over the place and we will have to be at our best to come up with a favourable result."

Gloucester: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Lesley Vainikolo, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Rory Lawson; 1 Nick Wood, 2 Andy Titterrell, 3 Carlos Nieto, 4 Marco Bortolami (c), 5 Alex Brown, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 7 Akapusi Qera, 8 Gareth Delve.
Replacements 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Will James, 19 Luke Narraway, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Willie Walker, 22 Mark Foster.

Bath: 15 Joe Maddock, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Tom Cheesmen, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens; 1 David Flatman, 2 Lee Mears, 3 Matt Stevens, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 5 Danny Grewcock, 6 Jonny Faamatuainu, 7 Michael Lipman, 8 Daniel Browne.
Replacements16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Duncan Bell, 18 Peter Short, 19 Chris Goodman, 20 Nick Walshe, 21 Shaun Berne, 22 Alex Crockett.

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