Gloucester and Northampton set for clash at Kingsholm to get their play-off pushes back on track


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Ruan Ackermann will captain Gloucester for the first time as they attempt to put their recent form behind them in order to regain a spot in the top four.

The South African takes the lead from Lewis Ludlow, who has been called up by Eddie Jones ahead of England’s Six Nations clash with Ireland next week. He will do so in a pivotal game for both sides, as they’ll be desperate to bring their losing streaks to an end and keep the pressure up on those coveted play-off places.

Changes from last weekends 35-23 loss at Welford Road see Harry Elrington and Santiago Socino come into the front row with the other change in the forwards seeing Jack Clement replace Ludlow at openside.

Furthermore, backs see Ben Meehan come in at scrum half and the experienced Billy Twelvetrees come in for Charlie Chapman and the injured Mark Atkinson. Meanwhile, Andrew Davison and Henry Walker return to the 23, taking their places on the bench respectively. Welsh winger Louis Rees-Zammit only makes the bench again having been dropped from Wales’ loss against England.

The Cherry & Whites have lost their last two league fixtures away at Exeter and Leicester, both without picking up a single point. These results have seen them slip from third to sixth in the league, albeit with George Skivington’s side having a bye week between the fixtures.

Northampton, meanwhile, have lost their last three fixtures including being edged out 34-31 in a thriller at with Exeter at the Cinch Stadium last Sunday.

However, he Saints can call upon star man Dan Biggar who comes in for James Grayson, with a week off in the six nations allowing the 98-cap fly half to play. The other change sees Teimana Harrison come in for Mikey Haywood, a move that will see Sam Matevesi revert to his normal position at hooker. The bench sees Nic Auterac and Karl Wilkins come in with a shift from a 6-2 adding an additional back to make it a 5-3 split.

The Saints won the reverse fixture in the opening round 34-20 at Franklin’s Gardens and also got the better of Gloucester on their last trip to Kingsholm back in January 2021.

In addition to this, road trips have seen a mixture of highs and lows, winning half of their away games this season and  picking up victories at venues such as Sandy Park and Ashton Gate whilst also coming unstuck at Wasps and Sale.

Gloucester boast a strong record at home this season, having lost just once at Kingsholm since October last year.

They also won their last home game by 24-7 against high flying London Irish, and as such Northampton will have to be at their best if they are to do the double over Gloucester for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

With both sides faltering in recent weeks, a win could be season defining with Northampton currently outside of the Champions Cup places and Gloucester trying to stay in the fight for a play-off spot.

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