Gloucester have the weapons to put a dent in Newcastle's run
Returning troops key at Kingsholm Stadium
BT Sport 2, 3pm Saturday
Two teams who are making a surprise playoff push get the chance to show what they’re about on TV after a weather-enforced schedule reshuffle.
Exeter v Saracens was supposed to be Saturday’s live match but the Chiefs have pushed the game back 24 hours and it will now be broadcast on Sunday, so Gloucester and Newcastle get the TV gig instead.
At the start of the season these two were a considerably shorter price to finish bottom of the table than top.
But the Falcons moved up to the giddy heights of fourth after the last round of matches and have lost just one of their last seven Premiership outings.
That sole defeat was at heavyweights Saracens while their recent run includes a home triumph over champions and table-toppers Exeter plus road successes at Northampton, London Irish and Harlequins.
Those three teams lie in the bottom four but they also won at Sale and Bath earlier in the season to counter claims that they might be less comfortable away from the 4G surface at their Kingston Park home.
Dean Richards has made just two changes to his side after last week’s victory at Quins but the Cherry & Whites have made seven, including the return of prop Val Rapava Ruskin to bolster a solid pack and of scrum-half Will Heinz, who marshals the team so well.
The home side could well have an edge up front that some of Newcastle’s recent victims have lacked, and against sides with plenty of power in their forward ranks, such as Sarries and Leicester, the Falcons have still come up short this season.
Newcastle have dangerous runners in Vereniki Goneva, second in the tryscoring charts, and Sinoti Sinoti on the flanks, but Gloucester, still unbeaten at home in the Premiership after last week’s draw with third-placed Wasps, have the weapons to limit the Falcons’ expansive game.
Seven of the nine victories this season have been by no more than 12 points and they look value for another narrow win.
Northampton came agonisingly close to a third win in four matches as they were edged out in the last minute at Exeter last week, and they are three-point favourites at home to Sale, who have lost their last two.
Gloucester to win by one to 12 points
1pt 13-8 Sky Bet
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