How are they getting on?
Bath have been putting together a decent run of wins, beating much improved Italian side Treviso in what some thought was an unconvincing victory. There was less dissent the following week as they secured an important victory against The Scarlets in Llanelli, confidence will be high as a result.
Gloucester have been competing in the Challenge Cup and as has been the case this season their fortunes were mixed, they lost away to Pau before hammering Agen at Kingsholm in what was an impressive result against a traveling french side.
What to get excited about:
- Experimental back line selections from Gloucester – Gloucester have selected summer signing Owen Williams to start at fly-half, with Billy Burns moving back to fullback. Inside centre Billy Twelvetrees has also worn the ten shirt for Gloucester and with Williams comfortable at twelve I would expect to see a pretty flexible approach to Gloucester’s attacking play. Having three playmakers across the back line means that they should be able to move the ball into the wider channels effectively but could see them lacking on the gainline, Gloucester will be hoping that the gamble pays off.
- Underhill fighting for an England place – Sam Underhill is one of three young back row prospects (the others being Sam Simmons and Tom Curry) who have a realistic chance of forcing themselves into the England side for the Autumn Internationals. Underhill is defensively the most physical of the three, which is exactly what his predecessor James Haskell brought to the equation. He will be looking to deliver another impressive performance against a back row that features former England Number 8 Ben Morgans.
- Time for Jonathon Joseph to impress? Henry Slade seems to be finally settling in the thirteen shirt for Exeter and looks to be rediscovering his best form, while Jonny May’s try scoring exploits at Leicester make it more likely that Elliot Daly will be moved into the centres for England. This means that Joseph is under increased pressure for his shirt and while his international pedigree and undoubted talent should by him a bit of leeway, a breakout performance would help to keep the challengers at bay. Opposite him is Henry Trinder, who was arguably ahead of Joseph in the pecking order before injury ruined his international ambitions in 2012.
Prediction: Gloucester have still been inconsistent so far under Ackermann and Bath seem to be building some continuity amongst their ranks. Fly-half Rhys Priestland is controlling proceedings very nicely and their pack looks formidable. I expect a comfortable home victory a Bath continue to establish themselves as a competitive side.