McRae debut means Gloucester travel with hope

Club Rugby: Fortey reaches landmark for Quins while Bath look for sixth straight win over Saracens
Click to follow
The Independent Online

They do not seem to be able to shake off their chronic affliction, travel sickness, and Gloucester travel to second-placed Harlequins today not having won away from "fortress" Kingsholm in the Zurich Premiership since March.

They do not seem to be able to shake off their chronic affliction, travel sickness, and Gloucester travel to second-placed Harlequins today not having won away from "fortress" Kingsholm in the Zurich Premiership since March.

At least they are scoring tries, though. They have 11 so far this season, which prompted Mark Evans, the Quins head coach-cum-chief executive, to warn: "With players like James Simpson-Daniel, Marcel Garvey and Henry Paul among their ranks, they have guys who can cause you problems at any point during the game."

Those are the backs, and the top try-scorer is the young fullback Jon Goodridge, with three, but in fact the back row, as much as the backs, is proving dangerous, with the pacy James Forrester and the captain, Jake Boer, also getting on the scoresheet.

But Quins are not without their lethal finishers either, not least the flying wing Ugo Monye, who has scored five of their 11 tries this season. If Gloucester have an edge, apart from the fact that they have conceded one try fewer than Quins' nine, it is that they have the experienced New South Wales Waratah Duncan McRae making his debut.

While it will be McRae's first Premiership match for Gloucester, the Cherry-and-Whites hooker, Chris Fortey, will be making his 100th appearance in the competition for the club. The former Gloucester player Rob Jewell has been dropped to the Harlequins' bench to make way for Simon Keogh on the wing, while Tani Fuga and Andy Reay come in for the injured Ace Tiatia and Josh Taumalolo.

The day's other match sees Newcastle taking on Northampton at Franklin's Gardens, a venue where Rob Andrew has yet to taste victory as the Falcons' coach. The former England fly-half has stuck with the captain, Mark Andrews, who was sent off at Quins last week for allegedly kneeing Pat Sanderson in the head.

Andrews faces a disciplinary hearing at Coventry on Tuesday and will be followed by Rotherham's scrum-half, Charlie Harrison, whose yellow card for allegedly kneeing an opponent in the face against Bath was subsequently upgraded earlier this week to a red card after a review of the incident on video.

The Saints coach, Wayne Smith, has made five changes to his starting line-up, chief among which are the return of the former Scotland international John Leslie to the centre.

Jet-lagged or not, the England stand-by scrum-half, Martyn Wood, dubbed "Air Miles" by his team-mates after his epic journey to Australia and back in the last week, is in the Bath starting line-up to take on Saracens at the Recreation Ground. Also back after injury are Matt Perry and Brendon Daniel as they go in search of a sixth successive Premiership victory.

Wasps' director of rugby, Warren Gatland, has made four changes for the match against London Irish at Wycombe's Causeway Stadium. Trevor Leota replaces Phil Greening at hooker, the latter dropping to the bench, and John Hart replaces Peter Scrivener at No 8 with Paul Volley switching from blindside to No 7 to accommodate Ian Clarke at No 6.

Comments