Premiership: Steven Luatua returns from injury to lead Bristol Bears against Gloucester

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Bristol Bears and Newcastle Falcons will host Gloucester and London Irish respectively in the two Premiership games taking place this Friday.

Bristol Bears v Gloucester

Experienced back-rower Steven Luatua returns to the Bristol Bears starting line-up for Friday night’s West Country derby clash with Gloucester at Ashton Gate.

The All Black captains the side in his first start since dislocating his wrist against Harlequins last month, joining Sam Jeffries and Fitz Harding in the back-row.

Toby Fricker recovers from a chest injury to start on the wing for the first time since Boxing Day, with Luke Morahan switching to full-back in place of the injured Charles Piutau (groin).

Antoine Frisch partners Piers O’Conor in the midfield, while homegrown duo Andy Uren and Callum Sheedy line up as the starting half-backs.

Meanwhile, Gloucester head coach George Skivington has named an unchanged starting XV for this fixture, with Andrew Davidson’s inclusion on the bench being the only change to their matchday 23.

The Cherry and Whites return to Premiership action against Bristol Bears having beaten Northampton Saints last Saturday to progress into the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

Santiago Carreras starts at full-back with Ollie Thorley and Louis Rees-Zammit on the wings. Chris Harris and Mark Atkinson combine in the midfield with Adam Hastings and Charlie Chapman continuing their partnership at half-back.

In the forwards, Val Rapava-Ruskin, Santiago Socino and Fraser Balmain make up the front-row with Freddie Clarke and Matias Alemanno at lock. Jordy Reid, Ruan Ackermann and captain Lewis Ludlow complete the pack.

There is a strong list of replacements with Jack Singleton, Harry Elrington, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Davidson and Ben Morgan covering the forwards with Ben Meehan, Billy Twelvetrees and Tom Seabrook named as back replacements.

The teams:

Bristol: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Toby Fricker, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Antoine Frisch, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Fitz Harding, 7 Sam Jeffries, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements:
16 Jake Kerr, 17 Jono Benz-Salomon, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Jack Bates

Gloucester: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Charlie Chapman, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Santiago Socino, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin
Replacements:
16 Jack Singleton, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Andrew Davidson, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Tom Seabrook

Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Joe James, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Claire Hodnett

Newcastle Falcons v London Irish

Philip van der Walt returns to the Newcastle starting line-up in the second-row after recovering from injury to replace Greg Peterson, who is ruled out through an injury of his own.

The South African, who this week signed a new three-year contract to remain in the North East, has is back from a knee problem.

Will Welch captains a side which sees the return of Callum Chick, with the Falcons out for a repeat of the 52-27 victory they enjoyed over the Exiles on their last visit to the North East in May of last year.

Joel Hodgson starts at fly-half after scoring from the bench in last week’s home date with Glasgow Warriors, with Argentina wing Mateo Carreras and centre Max Wright also added to the backline.

Fit-again flanker Gary Graham returns to a powerful bench, with director of rugby Dean Richards looking to finish the season strongly.

London Irish coach Declan Kidney has made limited changes to the side that dominated Castres Olympique in the Challenge Cup, with tighthead prop Ollie Hoskins coming in for Marcel van der Merwe in the front-row. Matt Rogerson captains the team, with Tom Person and Albert Tuisue making up the rest of the loose trio.

The backline is unchanged after a venomous showing last time out. Paddy Jackson will pull the strings against from fly-half inside of centres Bernhard van Rensburg and Curtis, with Ollie Hassell-Collins, Kyle Rowe and Tom Parton making up the back three.

The teams:

Newcastle: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Max Wright, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Josh Basham, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Philip van der Walt, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Adam Radwan

London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Kyle Rowe, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 Ben White, 22 Will Joseph, 23 Henry Arundell

Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, John Meredith
TMO: David Rose

READ MORE: Premiership: Gloucester on the brink of something special

The article Premiership: Steven Luatua returns from injury to lead Bristol Bears against Gloucester appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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