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Author

Will Carpenter

writes

Posted Thursday, February 28th 2019

Preview: Bristol Bears vs Gloucester

Bristol Bears welcome West Country rivals Gloucester to Ashton Gate on Friday night for a mouthwatering West Country derby.

Pat Lam's side earned a consolation bonus-point against Harlequins last weekend thanks to Alapati Leiua's late try, while Gloucester followed up a victory over Exeter Chiefs by downing Saracens at Kingsholm.

Here's everything you need to know about Friday's clash.


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Luke Daniels; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Joe Batley, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Jordan Crane (co-capt).

Replacements: 16. Sam Parry, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. George Smith, 20. Jack Lam, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Mat Protheroe.

Gloucester Rugby: 15. Jason Woodward; 14. Tom Marshall, 13. Billy Twelvetrees, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Ollie Thorley; 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Willi Heinz (capt); 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. James Hanson, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Ed Slater, 5. Franco Mostert; 6. Ruan Ackermann, 7. Jaco Kriel, 8. Ben Morgan.

Replacements: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Alex Seville, 18. Ciaran Knight, 19. Freddie Clarke, 20. Jake Polledri, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Owen Williams, 23. Matt Banahan.


Last time out:

Bristol Bears 21-13 Gloucester - Fri, 2nd Nov 2018, Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears took the spoils from a gruelling West Country derby under the Ashton Gate lights, as two tries in the final 15 minutes fired Pat Lam’s men to a 21-13 victory over Gloucester in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

It was a victory owed largely to the dominance of the Bristol pack, with all three tries coming as a result of an impressive home set-piece.

Both Nick Haining and Jake Heenan benefitted from the hosts’ dominance at scrum time to touch down from the base, either side of a Dan Thomas’ 68th-minute score, as the flanker got the final touch on a powerful Bears maul.

Gloucester had only a pair of Owen Williams’ penalties to show for their efforts right up until the final play, when referee Adam Leal awarded a consolation penalty try.


Head-to-head:

Harry Thacker

Thacker has an impressive start to life at Bristol Bears, scoring six tries in 13 Gallagher Premiership appearances already this season.

He scored twice against former club Leicester Tigers just a week after bagging a second-half hat-trick against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. 

The dynamic hooker is already a fan favourite at Ashton Gate and will be keen to make his mark in this week's derby clash.

Franco Marais

The South African hooker had made 11 appearances for the Cherry and Whites following a summer switch from Super Rugby side, the Sharks.

The 25-year-old has represented his country at Under 20 and ‘A’ team level and has made 42 Super Rugby appearances.

Gloucester director of rugby, David Humphreys highlighted Marais’ work at the set-piece after confirming his signing in March.


Callum Sheedy

The young fly-half is quickly making a name for himself in the Gallagher Premiership and Saturday's display at a sun-drenched Stoop once again showcased the class and spark of Callum Sheedy.

The 23-year-old was Bristol's standout player on the day, adding his first top-flight try to an earlier assist for Alapati Leiua.

Sheedy was also influential in the build-up to Charles Piutau's opener, breaking clear and kicking ahead for Steven Luatua, before the ball was moved left to Piutau.

Danny Cipriani

Danny Cipriani joined Gloucester Rugby from Wasps ahead of the 2018-19 season and has made a scintillating start to life at Kingsholm.
 
An exciting and skilful fly-half, Cipriani has also represented Sale Sharks in the Premiership and Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby. He has made over 200 senior appearances in English club rugby.
 
Has also been capped 16 times by England and started the team’s most recent international, against South Africa.


Word from the camps:

Jonathan Thomas

“Gloucester are a quality team, they’ve beaten the two best teams in the league in recent weeks, so we know it’s going to be a good test for us as a group.

"But it’s also one we’re really looking forward to. We relish these opportunities – you want to play against the best teams and add the spice of a local derby into that with the crowd that we have, it’s going to be a fantastic occasion."

Johan Ackermann

“It’s going to be massive. We’ve put ourselves in a good position in the past two weeks, but Bristol are a side that plays great rugby, they have a lot of confidence and they can score great tries, they average over 30 points at home.

“We have to keep looking at ourselves, and keep on improving as the challenge is going to get tougher. Bristol have got a very good squad and some X Factor players.

"They’ve got continuity in their team and bring a different challenge to any other Premiership team.”


Form guide:

Bristol Bears have lost their last three Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches since beating Newcastle Falcons 35-28 at Ashton Gate on December 30th.

Bristol have a won four lost three record at home in Premiership Rugby this season.

Gloucester Rugby have beaten the top two teams in the league in the last two rounds, lowering the colours of Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Kingsholm.

Gloucester have won twice away from home in Gallagher Premiership Rugby this season, at Wasps in round six and at Newcastle in round 10.

Bristol beat Gloucester 21-13 at Ashton Gate in the Premiership Rugby Cup in November but have not been victorious over them in Premiership Rugby since a 29-26 win at Memorial Stadium in February 2008.

Bristol Bears: LLL
Gloucester: WWW


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Friday will be cloudy and mostly dry, though there may be a few patches of light rain or drizzle. Heavier rain will reach Cornwall in the evening and spread eastwards.

Maximum temperature 12 °C.


How to buy tickets:

Adult tickets start from £30 and U12s from £10 for this mouthwatering clash against the high-flying Cherry and Whites.

Pack Ashton Gate on Friday, March 1st (7.45pm KO) with a huge crowd expected at Ashton Gate.

The popular fan village will be in full swing, with local food and drink outlets, as well as live music and entertainment.

Tickets are available to members to purchase online now by clicking here, or via supporter services on 0117 963 0600


Match sponsor: WSSI Limited