GLOUCESTER will go in search of a second successive EDF Energy Cup victory tomorrow and have named a strong side to face the Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingsholm (3pm).
Following an opening round victory over Wasps (24-19) earlier this month, Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan has been forced into a number of alterations because of injury but keeps faith with the backbone of the side that lost to Cardiff in the Heineken Cup last week.
At half-back, Rory Lawson will partner Willie Walker after injuries ruled our Ryan Lamb (pelvis) and Gareth Cooper (neck).
James Simpson-Daniel will undergo surgery on damaged ligaments in his right ankle next week which means Mark Foster comes into wear the 14 shirt. He will complete a back three alongside full-back Iain Balshaw, who has scored five tries in his last three appearances, and Lesley Vainikolo.
Mike Tindall will skipper the side from centre alongside Olly Barkley, who will wear the number 12 shirt.
Ryan has also made changes to his forward pack. Alasdair Dickinson, impressive against the Blues, will line-up alongside fellow Scotland international, hooker Scott Lawson, who will make his second start in Gloucester colours, and tight-head prop Carlos Nieto.
Adam Eustace will start for the first time this season in the second row alongside Marco Bortolami after a foot injury ruled out Alex Brown.
In the back row, Peter Buxton continues at blindside, Andy Hazell returns in the number seven shirt and Alasdair Strokosch shifts to number eight because of the hamstring injury to Luke Narraway.
Gloucester are still without Olly Morgan (hamstring), Anthony Allen (ankle) and Matthew Watkins (knee).
"I have said before we are taking this competition very seriously - we are facing a fellow Heineken Cup side and many aspects of the contest with resemble Europe - this is not something we are taking lightly," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"We want to be successful week on week, regardless of the opposition or competition. That is how you build a competitive, durable side and tomorrow is a huge contest for us - there is no doubt about that.
"We need to show a reaction from the defeat against Cardiff and tomorrow represents a great opportunity to do that."
On the bench, Gloucester will welcome back hooker Andy Titterrell, who has not featured since being knocked out against Sale Sharks in the last week of September. He will be joined on the bench by prop Jack Forster, lock Dan Williams and Apo Satala.
In the backs, Ryan has drafted in two players from the Academy. Scrum-half Dave Lewis will be joined by Tristan Roberts, a stand-off, who has also played for Cinderford this season.
Centre Jack Adams completes the options.
GLOUCESTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons, tomorrow, 3pm): Iain Balshaw; Mark Foster, Mike Tindall (capt), Olly Barkley, Lesley Vainikolo; Willie Walker, Rory Lawson; Alasdair Dickinson, Scott Lawson, Carlos Nieto, Adam Eustace, Marco Bortolami, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, Alasdair Strokosch. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Jack Forster, Dan Williams, Apo Satala, Dave Lewis, Tristan Roberts, Jack Adams.
There are still tickets available for the game tomorrow and they are available from www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk, the ticket hotline number on 0871 871 8781 (option 2) or from the ticket office.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.
Supporters who are still to purchase tickets for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm) are reminded that Early Bird prices are only valid until 6:30pm on Thursday evening.