Round 7 of the Premiership kicks off on Friday evening at Gtech Community Stadium where London Irish will host the Cherry & Whites.
As things stand, the Exiles find themselves four points behind Gloucester – the former sitting in ninth position on 12 points and the latter in fifth on 16 log points.
Last round, Gloucester had the better of Bristol Bears – albeit not by much – at Kingsholm:
Meanwhile, Irish fell victim to another decent display by Sale Sharks:
London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney has made four changes for the visit of Gloucester Rugby to the Gtech Community Stadium on Friday night for Round 7 of the Gallagher Premiership.
Henry Arundell missed last week’s 37-14 defeat to Sale Sharks but is back to start at full-back for the clash for which Kidney expects a crackling atmosphere.
Tom Pearson comes into the back row in place of Ben Donnell, while Danilo Fischetti and Lucio Cinti also get the nod.
Joining Fischetti In the front row, Agustin Creevy and Lovejoy Chawatama combine, with Api Ratuniyarawa and Rob Simmons in the second row.
Juan Martin Gonzalez, Pearson and So’otala Fa’aso’o make up the back row.
Ben White and captain Paddy Jackson continue their partnership in the halfbacks, and Benhard van Rensburg joins Cinti to form the centre duo.
Ollie Hassell-Collins, Ben Loader and Henry Arundell make up the back three.
“It’s another tough challenge in store for us when Gloucester Rugby turn up to the Gtech Community Stadium tomorrow night, but one that we are excited for,” said Declan Kidney.
“It’s always a special occasion playing under the floodlights on a Friday night, and I’m sure tomorrow evening will be no different. It’s our first Friday night fixture in the Gallagher Premiership, so I’m sure the atmosphere will be brilliant.”
Gloucester Rugby head coach George Skivington has made two alterations to the starting XV that defeated Bristol Bears last weekend.
Argentinian hooker Santiago Socino replaces Jack Singleton, who has been named in Eddie Jones England squad for the autumn, in the front row.
Val Rapava-Ruskin maintains his position at loose-head and like Singleton, also joins up with England in the Autumn. Fraser Balmain completes the front row.
It's as it was for the rest of the pack with Freddie Clarke and Matias Alemanno in the second row and Jordy Reid, Lewis Ludlow and Ruan Ackermann in the back row.
The singular change in the back line sees Charlie Chapman come in for Ben Meehan at scrum-half. He is partnered with Adam Hastings who keeps his place at outside half.
Giorgi Kveseladze and Chris Harris continue in the centres with the back three of Jonny May, Louis Rees-Zammit and Santiago Carreras also remaining from the Bristol win.
On the bench, Jack Singleton drops from the starting XV where he joins Harry Elrington, Ciaran Knight, Cam Jordan, Albert Tuisue, Stephen Varney, Jack Reeves and Lloyd Evans.
- The Exiles currently have the highest rate of tackle completion in the Premiership (90%).
- The London Irish lineout is also excellent. Their rate of ball retention from their own throw is an impressive 96% - the highest in the league. However, the Cherry-and-Whites, their opponents in round seven, have stolen more lineouts than any other team in the league (11).
- Demonstrative of their desire to attack, London Irish have made the fewest kicks from hand of any side playing this weekend, only putting boot to ball an average of 19.2 times per match.
- Rob Simmons’ five lineout steals so far this season are as many as any other player has made (=Theo McFarland). He has also taken 31 lineout throws on London Irish ball, the third-highest total in the league.
- Gloucester have conceded the fewest penalties of any team in the league this season, getting pinged a total of 35.
- Happy to play rugby without the ball, trusting the quality of their set piece and defence, Gloucester have made the fewest carries per 80 minutes so far this season (86.8) and the fewest offloads in total, throwing just 29.
- An area in which Gloucester have excelled is their ability to recover possession from their opposition, winning a league-high average of 9 turnovers per 80 minutes in their matches so far.
- In a ridiculous vein of form for Gloucester this season, Val Rapava Ruskin has scored two tries in two separate matches so far this season. Only Ellis Genge has also scored a brace from prop in the 2022/23 Premiership. Rapava Ruskin also made more metres in contact than any other forward in round six (30).
- London Irish have only won two of their last six against Gloucester, both of which were at home.
- For all the furore surrounding the talent in this London Irish team, they have still only managed to win two of their opening six Premiership fixtures: against Worcester Warriors and Bath, who are currently at the bottom of the table.