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Gloucester selection raises eyebrows and ire ahead of crucial European clash

By Josh Raisey
Gloucester's Danny Cipriani talks to referee, Pascal Gauzere during last Sunday's win over Connacht (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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The fortunes of Gloucester have changed a lot in the past week. The Cherry and Whites went from rock bottom of Pool Five in the Champions Cup to second following their bonus-point victory over Connacht at Kingsholm last Sunday.

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Having lost to both Toulouse and Montpellier in the opening two rounds of the tournament, Johan Ackermann’s side looked all but out, but the impressive win, combined with Montpellier losing to Toulouse, means there is a glimmer of hope.

The west country outfit travel to Galway on Saturday knowing a win is a must if they are going to hold onto any hope of making a remarkable resurgence in their pool.

That is why some of the omissions in the starting XV have perplexed Gloucester fans.

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The in-form Joe Simpson starts on the bench alongside Ben Morgan, Danny Cipriani and Rugby World Cup winner Franco Mostert in a team that sees some young players blooded into the fold.

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While there may be long term benefits of letting some players have exposure to such a crucial game, the goal of winning in the immediate present may be compromised. This is a team that still has some high-class and first-choice players, but very few would argue that the players on the bench are not starters.

The view amongst fans after last week’s victory is that Gloucester are very much back in the hunt, but questions have now been raised as to whether Ackermann has already turned his attentions to the Gallagher Premiership. The Sportsground is not an easy place to travel to, as Montpellier can attest to, and they may be making things hard for themselves.

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A win in Ireland, alongside a win for Toulouse in Montpellier, would put Gloucester in a very good position to come second in their pool and perhaps qualify for the quarter-finals as one of the best runners-up. A loss would make that highly unlikely.

Gloucester Rugby:

15. Matt Banahan; 14. Louis Rees-Zammit, 13. Billy Twelvetrees, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Ollie Thorley; 10. Lloyd Evans, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. Todd Gleave, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Alex Craig, 5. Gerbrandt Grobler; 6. Freddie Clarke, 7. Lewis Ludlow (capt), 8. Ruan Ackermann

Replacements:

16. Franco Marais, 17. Alex Seville, 18. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Ben Morgan, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Danny Cipriani, 23. Chris Harris

Unavailable for selection:

Ruan Dreyer, Corné Fourie, James Hanson, Willi Heinz, Jaco Kriel, Tom Marshall, Ed Slater, Owen Williams, Jason Woodward

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Gloucester selection raises eyebrows and ire ahead of crucial European clash

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