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Gloucester are facing the Londoners just four days after the club that has dominated English club rugby in recent times learned they have been fined £5.3million and deducted 35 points.
Having lost last Saturday at Leicester, who were winless after the two opening rounds, Johan Ackermann knows emotion opposition are trouble.
“It’s almost like with Leicester, you play them after two losses you know you are going to get a side that is going to be bang on it, and I think it is the same thing with Saracens,” Ackermann told RugbyPass ahead of the intriguing Saturday afternoon showdown (kick-off 3.0pm).
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“In that sense, it is unfortunate that were play Saracens now because they are going to be quite emotional and well-motivated. Saying that, we have to control our standard.
“We didn’t play well in the first three weeks consistently so for us, if we really want to compete in this competition or in any competition, we have to be able to play well on a weekly basis and it starts on Saturday against Sarries. Even though we know they are going to be quite like a bear with a sore head, we have to match that.”
Gloucester make a half dozen changes to the side that started at Tigers. Freddie Clarke replaces Ed Slater in the second row, Slater having picked up a foot injury early on at Welford Road. In the back row, Jaco Kriel and Lewis Ludlow return to the starting line-up.
'It’s almost like with Leicester, you play them after two losses you know you are going to get a side that is going to be bang on it, and it is the same thing with Saracens'
– Johan Ackermann tells @heagneyl what Gloucester expect to face on Saturday https://t.co/QvnxlLESHl
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 8, 2019
There are also three changes to the backs. Callum Braley gets the nod at scrum-half, Chris Harris will make his first start for the club at outside centre and Jason Woodward returns at full-back with Tom Marshall moving back on to the wing.
Meanwhile, Saracens’ Joe Gray will start for the first time this season in the Premiership. The 31-year-old has appeared twice as a replacement so far in 2018/19 and takes the No2 jersey for the trip to Kingsholm.
Flanker Calum Clark also features in the pack after missing the last-gasp victory over London Irish, meaning academy graduate Nick Isiekwe switches back to the second row.
“People lose their jobs because they’re not performing well enough because everyone’s saying ‘why aren’t we as good as Saracens?’ https://t.co/dqAgnJLfcy
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 7, 2019
Hooker Jack Singleton, who began his career in the club’s academy, is named on the bench upon his return from World Cup duty with England and could make his first outing for his boyhood club after his summer signing from Worcester.
Having featured in the tournament’s final against South Africa, Ben Spencer is also back in club action after selection on the bench.
GLOUCESTER: Jason Woodward; Tom Marshall, Chris Harris, Mark Atkinson, Ollie Thorley; Danny Cipriani, Callum Braley; Josh Hohneck, Franco Marais, Fraser Balmain, Freddie Clarke, Gerbrandt Grobler, Jaco Kriel, Lewis Ludlow, Ben Morgan (capt). Reps: Corne Fourie, Val Rapava Ruskin, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Ruan Ackermann, Jake Polledri, Joe Simpson, Billy Twelvetrees, Matt Banahan.
SARACENS: Matt Gallagher; Sean Maitland, Duncan Taylor, Nick Tompkins, Alex Lewington; Manu Vunipola, Richard Wigglesworth; Ralph Adams-Hale, Joe Gray, Titi Lamositele, Will Skelton, Nick Isiekwe, Calum Clark, Ben Earl, Jackson Wray (capt). Reps: Jack Singleton, Richard Barrington, Sam Wainwright, Joel Kpoku, Callum Hunter-Hill, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Rotimi Segun.
WATCH: Former Saracens player Jim Hamilton discusses the salary cap scandal surrounding his former club
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