Aviva Premiership: Gloucester entertain Saracens as Worcester aim to close gap

Last Updated: 04/01/14 2:15pm

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Freddie Burns: The fly-half returns to face league leaders Saracens on Saturday

Freddie Burns: The fly-half returns to face league leaders Saracens on Saturday

Sky Bet

Gloucester welcome back Freddie Burns for Saturday's clash with Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens at Kingsholm.

The fly-half - who has been strongly linked with a move to league rivals Leicester to replace the departing Toby Flood - is the only change to the starting XV for the hosts following their triumph over London Irish.

"They'll bring a different challenge to the last two games, they're physical, committed and very accurate in what they do."
Nigel Davies

With Burns back, director of rugby Nigel Davies is able to switch skipper Billy Twelvetrees back to his more familiar position of inside centre.

There is one alteration on the bench, too. Hooker Darren Dawidiuk returns to the list of replacements as the Cherry and Whites look to make it a hat-trick of league wins for the first time since October 2012.

"Saracens are playing extremely well, as everybody knows," Davies told Gloucester's official website. "They'll bring a different challenge to the last two games, they're physical, committed and very accurate in what they do.

"They play a very structured game and they do it very well. They focus on certain things and do it exceptionally well. You have to be very mindful that you don't play into the pressure that they create."

Saracens are boosted by the return of Brad Barritt, with the England centre due to make his first start since September.

Owen Farrell, Chris Ashton and Marcelo Bosch are also included in the starting line-up, while Steve Borthwick is back to lead the visitors from the second row. Prop Rhys Gill is fit to take a seat on the bench.

Despite their outstanding domestic form this season Sarries don't have a good record on their visits to Gloucester, managing just one win since 2005.

Basement battle

Saturday's other top-flight fixture focuses on the bottom end of the table, as basement boys Worcester travel to nearest rivals London Irish.

The Exiles have recalled winger Sailosi Tagicakibau and have Shane Geraghty back at fly-half as they look to end a miserable recent run of form that has seen them manage just one victory in their last 10 outings in all competitions.

John Yapp, Mike Mayhew and Leo Halavatau will make up a new-look front row with Nic Rouse joining captain George Skivington in the lock positions.

Worcester, meanwhile, have named Peter Warwick at fly-half in one of two alterations made by director of rugby Dean Ryan from the line-up that started the 26-8 loss to Sarries on December 28.

Centre Ravai Fatiaki will partner Alex Grove in midfield but the pack remains the same. Jonny Arr, Josh Matavesi and Ed Shervington are all on the bench.

The Warriors know a victory - their first in league action this season - would cut the gap at the foot of the standings, though they have lost to London Irish in six of the last seven meetings of the two teams.

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