Rory Lawson will start against Northampton tomorrow
Bruce Seabrook/GPA Images
RORY LAWSON will make his first Guinness Premiership start for Gloucester tomorrow against Northampton Saints at Kingsholm (3pm).
The former Edinburgh scrum-half will replace Peter Richards in the starting line-up for the visit of the Saints, as Gloucester aim to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Lawson's inclusion is one of four changes to the starting XV that drew 27-27 against Leicester last weekend. Ludovic Mercier is named at stand-off in place of the injured Willie Walker and will also make his first Premiership start of the season.
Brad Davies, who kicked the equalising penalty at Welford Road, is named on the bench.
Up front, Nick Wood gets the nod at loosehead in place of Patrice Collazo and Adam Eustace replaces Will James at lock.
Of the decision to start with Lawson, head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "Pete is not injured and has been fantastic for us so far this season but we feel Rory deserves an opportunity and I am excited at the prospect.
"We know Pete will play a major part in our season over a long period and we realise we need to manage that properly."
Mercier, who has made 65 Premiership appearances and has scored 805 points, replaces Walker who has a knee injury.
The rest of the line-up remains unchanged. Olivier Azam and Christian Califano partner Wood in the front row, Marco Bortolami is once again named as matchday captain and the back row trio of Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell and James Forrester is intact.
Anthony Allen and Rudi Keil are again the midfield partnership while James Bailey, Mark Foster and Olly Morgan complete the back three.
"After last week, our main emotion after drawing at Leicester was frustration because we felt we could have won the game," Ryan said. "So we acknowledge this game is of huge significance for us after the start we have made.
"We have a number of players unavailable through injury which makes our start to the season even more pleasing.
"But Northampton are a fantastic side with outstanding individuals who will be very competitive - it should be a great game."
GLOUCESTER (v Northampton, tomorrow, Kingsholm, 3pm): Olly Morgan; James Bailey, Rudi Keil, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster; Ludovic Mercier, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Christian Califano, Adam Eustace, Marco Bortolami (capt), Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, James Forrester. Reps: Mefin Davies, Jack Forster, Will James, Jake Boer, Pete Richards, Brad Davies, Jack Adams.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees led Gloucester Rugby to European glory on Friday evening, scoring the crucial try on a memorable night for the Cherry and Whites. After the game, he paid tribute to his team's performance under pressure in the latter stages as they withstood a ferocious late Edinburgh fightback.
Speaking to GRTV, James Hook admitted that, after a superb opening, Gloucester really had to pass a test of character to hold off Edinburgh and lift the European Rugby Challenge Cup. He paid tribute to his team mates for all their hard work on what was a great day for the club.
Speaking to the assembled media this week, Gloucester Rugby club captain Billy Twelvetrees explains that the squad are ready for the final and that it will be an honour to lead the Cherry and Whites out in the Challenge Cup final.
Gloucester Rugby scrum half Greig Laidlaw will line up against former team mates Edinburgh Rugby on Friday evening, but the focus is firmly on his own roles as the Cherry and Whites gear up for the EPCR Challenge Cup final at The Stoop.
Speaking to the media ahead of Friday evening's European Rugby Challenge Cup Final against Edinburgh, Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressed that his improving Gloucester team will need to perform at their best to prevail against a tough Edinburgh side.
Dan Robson, a second half try scorer in the 42-40 win over Newcastle on Saturday, admitted that Gloucester had started slowly but that the second half comeback showed real character and maintains momentum going into Friday's European final.
Gareth Evans was a first half replacement for the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, but the back rower's impressive carrying kept the hosts on the front foot when they needed it most to snatch a dramatic comeback win.
After his last ditch try clinched the 42-40 Aviva Premiership victory over Newcastle at Kingsholm on Saturday, Billy Burns told GRTV that all the Gloucester team deserve credit for hanging in there against a Falcons team who really made life tough for the Cherry and Whites.
Argentine Mariano Galarza was a key part of the Cherry and White squad that tasted silverware on Friday night as they lifted the EPCR Challenge Cup at The Stoop, a special night that will live long in the memory of the second row.
Figures released by EPCR following Gloucester winning the European Rugby Challenge Cup on Friday evening show that, unsurprisingly, a number of those wearing Cherry and White showed up well in the various statistical categories.