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Davies: Edinburgh games are key

Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies admits the double header against Edinburgh holds the key to progressing in the Heineken Cup.

Only two points separate Pool Six leaders Perpignan from the bottom placed Cherry and Whites, who travel to Murrayfield on Sunday before hosting the return fixture a week later at Kingsholm.

Gloucester have struggled in the Aviva Premiership this season, but Davies insists Europe remains a potentially rewarding battleground.

"We worked very hard to finish in the top six and qualify for this Heineken Cup because it's such a fantastic tournament," he said.

"The guys will be energised going into this double header with Edinburgh and it's a huge opportunity for us.

"We're still very much in the fight in Europe and these back-to-backs will very much dictate the fate of the group.

"If we can go away and get a result then we'll be coming home next weekend with a lot of confidence, but we can't really look any further ahead than this fixture.

"Edinburgh are a good team. They'll be a little bit disappointed with their own form, but they've got real quality in their squad, virtually half the Scotland team."

England centre Billy Twelvetrees will lead Gloucester at Murrayfield in the injury-enforced absence of club captain Tom Savage.

Scotland forwards Ross Ford and Grant Gilchrist return for Edinburgh, whose coach Alan Solomons is ready for the decisive fixture in the pool.

"At this stage, the group is very tight, so this is a critical round," Solomons said.

"Clearly you have to try and win your home games, which is always important, but particularly in the Heineken Cup."

Second place Munster will be hoping to replace Perpignan at the summit of Pool Six when they clash at Thomond Park.

Leicester must maintain pressure on Pool Five leaders Ulster when they launch their double header against Montpellier at Welford Road on Sunday.

The Irish province have control of the group and the Tigers can ill-afford to fall away by losing to Montpellier.

"We've come through with some good results recently and there is a good spirit in the squad, but we know we're going to have to raise the bar again," Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said.

"Montpellier have a very good team, they are very combative and physical.

"They have a good backline too. This is a good challenge for us and we're going to need players on top of their game."

Centre Vereniki Goneva returns from injury for the Tigers while Jordan Crane replaces Thomas Waldrom at number eight.

In the fourth and final match of Sunday's programme, Pool Three leaders Toulouse host Connacht.


From Belfast Telegraph