First start for Gloucester youngster Stooke

ELLIOTT Stooke will make his first Aviva Premiership start for Gloucester Rugby in Saturday's home clash with Northampton Saints (kick-off 3.15pm).

England U20 international Stooke,20, has impressed the Gloucester coaching staff greatly in recent months and will partner skipper Tom Savage in the second row.

The only other changes to the side that started at Saracens last weekend see Dan Murphy start in place of the suspended Nick Wood at loosehead prop, and Jimmy Cowan get the nod at scrum half in place of Tavis Knoyle.

Meanwhile, amongst the replacements, having come through the A League game at Sale on Monday evening, Shaun Knight and Jonny May are both named in the matchday squad for the first time.

The Saints are flying high at the moment with two wins from their two opening matches, and Director of Rugby Nigel Davies is under no illusions about the size of the task in hand on Saturday.

"They're all tough games, and the players know that they'll have to be right on top of their game to get anything out of this match.

"They'll be coming here as strong favourites based on their past two performances and results. They'll come here with a lot of confidence and rightly so.

"It's very difficult to judge last weekend. In terms of spirit and commitment, there was plenty. But, in terms of the result, it was very difficult having played virtually the entire game with 14 men.

"But I was actually a little bit happier with the performance last Sunday than I was the week before. I've got no doubt that we're going to be a lot better than the first game of the season.”

Gloucester Rugby: Rob Cook; Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder, Billy Twelvetrees, James Simpson-Daniel; Freddie Burns, Jimmy Cowan; Dan Murphy, Darren Dawidiuk, Rupert Harden; Tom Savage (capt), Elliott Stooke; Matt Kvesic, Akapusi Qera, Sione Kalamafoni Replacements: Koree Britton, Yann Thomas, Shaun Knight, Will James, Ben Morgan, Dan Robson, Mike Tindall, Jonny May

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