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.
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).