Match Preview: Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints

Match Preview: Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints

There's good news for Gloucester fans, with the return of Adam Hastings and Ruan Ackermann from injury.

The front five is unchanged from the side that defeated Clermont 28-17 at Kingsholm in the challenge Cup last weekend, with Freddie Clarke and Matias Alemanno packing down behind the front row of Harry Elrington, Santi Socino and Fraser Balmain once more.

Socino bagged himself two tries against the French side.

Ackermann comes into the back row, where he joins Zach Mercer and captain, Lewis Ludlow.

Hastings comes in at fly-half alongside Stephen Varney, with Max Llewellyn and Chris Harris retaining their starting spots in midfield.

Last weekend's Player of the Match, Santi Carreras, moves to full-back to accommodate Hastings, and he's flanked by Ollie Thorley and Louis Rees-Zammit in the back three.

Jack Clement drops to the bench from the starting XV in the only change to the replacements from last week.

Rory Hutchinson and Fraser Dingwall both return to Northampton Saints’ starting line-up this weekend.

The last four clashes between the sides have been won by the home side on the day, with Saints’ last victory in Gloucester coming behind closed doors back in January 2021; and Northampton will be hoping to overturn that recent run of form at Kingsholm as they go in search of their fifth consecutive win, having downed Harlequins, Saracens, Glasgow Warriors and RC Toulon in the last four weeks.

George Furbank will lead Saints out in Gloucester and is joined in Northampton’s back three by a new-look wing pairing in Tommy Freeman and Tom Litchfield – with the latter starting on the wing for the first time in his Saints career.

Hutchinson returns from injury to start for Saints for the first time since Round 6 as he partners Dingwall in Northampton’s midfield, while Alex Mitchell and Fin Smith man Saints’ half-back berths once again.

Paul Hill provides the only change to the front row for Northampton as he joins prop Ethan Waller and hooker Curtis Langdon there, with locks Temo Mayanavanua and Alex Coles packing down behind them in the engine room – with the latter making his return after a two-week injury lay-off.

Oval Insights

Gloucester Rugby

  • Against Bristol Bears in Round 8, Louis Rees-Zammit made more clean breaks than any other player has in a match so far this season (five). He also made the joint-most metres (91) and beat the most defenders in Round 8, also scoring two tries.
  • Jack Clement has made more dominant carries than any other player so far this season (32).
  • Gloucester have averaged the fewest kicks in play (27.6) and kick in play metres (789) per 80 minutes this season.
  • Gloucester have the highest rate of carry dominance in the Premiership (28.9%) and have averaged the most post-contact metres per carry (1.1).

Northampton Saints

  • Ethan Waller won two turnovers in his 54-minute performance. Teammates Courtney Lawes and Ollie Sleightholme also won two apiece.
  • George Furbank made the joint-most carries (16), the most kicking metres (548), and the second-most carry metres (87) in Round 8.
  • The Saints have made a league-high average of 10.5 offloads per 80 minutes so far this season. They have also averaged the most clean breaks (9.6).
  • Northampton Saints have the best rate of tackle success in the Premiership (84.2%).

TV: Live on TNT Sports, 3pm kick-off

Referee: Hamish Smales

Assistant Referees: Harry Walbaum & Neil Chivers

TMO: Dean Richards

Gloucester Rugby: 15. Santi Carreras, 14. Louis Rees-Zammit*, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Max Llewellyn, 11. Ollie Thorley*, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Stephen Varney*, 1. Harry Elrington, 2. Santi Socino, 3. Fraser Balmain, 4. Freddie Clarke*, 5. Matias Alemanno, 6. Ruan Ackermann, 7. Lewis Ludlow* (C), 8. Zach Mercer

Replacements: 16. George McGuigan, 17. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18. Kirill Gotovtsev, 19. Cam Jordan*, 20. Jack Clement*, 21. Charlie Chapman*, 22. Seb Atkinson*, 23. Lloyd Evans*

*Denotes academy player or graduate.

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank (c), 14 Tom Litchfield, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 1 Ethan Waller, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Paul Hill, 4 Temo Mayanavanua, 5 Alex Coles, 6 Courtney Lawes, 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Sam Graham

Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Tarek Haffar, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Charlie Savala, 23 Jake Garside

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