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Ludlow to captain Gloucester Rugby in local derby at Bristol Bears on Saturday

Ludlow to captain Gloucester Rugby in local derby at Bristol Bears on Saturday
Lewis Ludlow will skipper Gloucester Rugby at Bristol Bears in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday afternoon, leading a team that features seven changes from the side that started at Toulouse last Sunday.

Six players who have been away on Six Nations training camps – Callum Braley, Alex Craig, Chris Harris, Jake Polledri, Owen Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit – have returned and have been included in the matchday 23, but Willi Heinz and Ollie Thorley are away with England.

Returning to the back line are Tom Marshall, Owen Williams and Joe Simpson who were all replacements in France. Williams makes his first start since Castres just over a year ago. Chris Harris will wear the number 13 shirt after missing the Toulouse game.

In the pack, Franco Marais returns at hooker, Fraser Balmain at tighthead prop and Ben Morgan at number eight.

With Gloucester Rugby currently in third place in the table on 23 points, and Bristol Bears not far behind in fifth place on 18 points, there’s a lot riding on the game and not just local bragging rights, a fact acknowledged by Head Coach Johan Ackermann.

“We all know it’s an important game. We’ve had a good few weeks with the games that we’ve played apart from last weekend. But now we’re solely focused on the Premiership and the table is very tight, we’re expecting a tough challenge away at Bristol.

“We can’t afford to turn over possession like we did last weekend. Like Toulouse, they’ve got players who can hurt you. They pride themselves on their expansive game, how they can play and score tries.

“We didn’t start well when we played them in the Premiership Rugby Cup game down there earlier in the season, gave them easy points and had to play catch-up. With the home crowd behind them, they’re very competitive, a quality team.”

Gloucester Rugby:

  1. Jason Woodward; 14. Tom Marshall, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Louis Rees-Zammit; 10. Owen Williams, 9. Joe Simpson 1. Val Rapava-Ruskin, 2. Franco Marais, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Alex Craig, 5. Franco Mostert; 6. Ruan Ackermann, 7. Lewis Ludlow (capt), 8. Ben Morgan


Replacements:

  1. Todd Gleave, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. Ciaran Knight, 19. Freddie Clarke, 20. Jake Polledri, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Billy Twelvetrees, 23. Matt Banahan


Unavailable for selection:

Danny Cipriani, Ruan Dreyer, Lloyd Evans, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Corné Fourie, James Hanson, Willi Heinz, Jaco Kriel, Charlie Sharples, Ed Slater, Ollie Thorley, Henry Trinder
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Kingsholm Stadium
Gloucester Rugby
Sun 6 Dec
KO 16:15
Harlequins
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