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Davies calls for improvement

Gloucester boss Nigel Davies has challenged his players to "redeem themselves" when they tackle Aviva Premiership rivals Saracens at Allianz Park on Sunday.

Gloucester will make the trip on the back of a surprise 22-16 home defeat against Sale Sharks last weekend.

It was business as usual for Saracens, though, who opened their league campaign with a 42-20 thumping of London Irish.

"We have made one or two changes. But, in the main, it's up to the guys to redeem themselves, really," Davies said.

"There is some technical stuff that we have to get right in terms of the set-piece. And, when we get more ball, we can actually dictate for longer periods of the game.

"It may not be a huge tactical game on Sunday.

"It may well come down to whoever wants it the most. It's the sort of thing that Saracens pride themselves on, in terms of dominating the opposition and being more physical.

"It is a great challenge, it's exactly what we want. Probably the best fixture we could have had."

Davies introduces Wales international scrum-half Tavis Knoyle for his first Premiership start, while a reshuffled back-row sees Sione Kalamafoni replacing number eight Ben Morgan, with Matt Kvesic switching to blindside flanker and Akapusi Qera starting at openside.

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall has made a solitary switch to the side that accounted for Irish, with centre Duncan Taylor taking over from England international Brad Barritt and partnering Joel Tomkins in midfield.

"We got off to a winning start against London Irish last weekend, and we were pleased with the result, but we know that we can improve on our performance," McCall said.

Last season's play-off loss to Northampton apart, Saracens have suffered just one defeat in their last nine Premiership games - against Gloucester five months ago.

Gloucester, meanwhile, have not opened a league campaign with successive defeats since 2000, but they last triumphed away in the Premiership at Northampton on February 9.


From Belfast Telegraph