Premiership: George McGuigan makes first for start for Gloucester while 100 up for Saracens wing Alex Lewington

Saracens wing Alex Lewington Credit: Alamy
Saracens wing Alex Lewington Credit: Alamy

Gloucester head coach George Skivington has made five changes to the starting XV that beat London Irish on New Year’s Eve for their clash with Saracens.

With Santiago Socino leaving the field with a leg injury against the Exiles, George McGuigan makes his first start for the club at hooker, after signing from Newcastle Falcons before Christmas.

Val Rapava Ruskin also comes into the front-row for Harry Elrington, whilst Kirill Gotovtsev keeps his place at tighthead.

Freddie Clarke returns to the starting line-up with Alex Craig also out with injury. He partners Matias Alemanno, who scored the Cherry and Whites’ sole try against Irish.

Albert Tuisue is banned

With Albert Tuisue suspended, Ben Morgan returns to the back-row alongside Ruan Ackermann and captain Lewis Ludlow.

Santiago Carreras proved to be the difference between the two sides on New Year’s Eve, his penalty with the clock in red won the game for Gloucester. He starts at fly-half outside Ben Meehan.

Giorgi Kveseladze is the only change in the backline. The Georgian replaces Seb Atkinson at inside centre alongside Chris Harris.

Ollie Thorley, Jonny May and Lloyd Evans form the back three.

With injuries to Socino and Jack Singleton, promising hooker Seb Blake steps up to the bench. He joins Harry Elrington, Ciaran Knight, Cam Jordan, Jack Clement, Stephen Varney, Billy Twelvetrees and Tom Seabrook.

Meanwhile, Saracens wing Alex Lewington will hit 100 games for the club in their opening match of 2023 on Friday.

There are six changes to the side that dominated Exeter Chiefs on New Year’s Eve, with two alterations to the pack and four to the backline.

Hugh Tizard and Ben Earl return to the pack, there are first starts of the season for Aled Davies and Duncan Taylor, whilst Lewington and Alex Lozowski are also back in the XV.

Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Marco Riccioni continue in a well-functioning front-row which showed their form last weekend, whilst Tizard is back to partner Maro Itoje in the second-row.

Andy Christie, Earl and Billy Vunipola complete a familiar back-row which will have a big challenge at the breakdown against the Cherry and Whites.

Owen Farrell continues at 10

Scrum-half Davies is alongside captain Owen Farrell in the number 10 shirt, and there is a midfield combination of Taylor and Lozowski for the trip to the West Country.

Centurion Lewington is on the left wing, with Max Malins on the right and Alex Goode at full-back.

On the bench there is another opportunity for young hooker Theo Dan, and Rotimi Segun returns to the match day squad for the first time this season.

Form: Gloucester have won two of their last three Premiership Rugby fixtures beating Northampton and London Irish at Kingsholm. Gloucester’s solitary defeat at Kingsholm in any tournament since May was 21-27 to Newcastle in Round 10 of Premiership Rugby. Saracens’ only defeat in Premiership Rugby since last season’s final was on December 23 at London Irish. Saracens have not lost successive away games in Premiership Rugby since February. The last four fixtures between the two clubs, since George Skivington took over as head coach of Gloucester, have been evenly split with two wins apiece. Gloucester have lost just once to Saracens at Kingsholm since 2015: 12-21 in November 2019.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Lloyd Evans, 14 Jonny May, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Giorgi Kveseladze, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Seb Blake, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Cam Jordan, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Tom Seabrook

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Max Malins, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Andy Christie, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Josh Hallett, 23 Rotimi Segun

Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Dan Jones, James Clarke
TMO: Claire Hodnett

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