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Gloucester Rugby welcome Northampton Saints in the EPCR Challenge Cup on Saturday as the two sides go head-to-head in European competition for the first time.
Gloucester have won their last five home games against fellow English teams in the Challenge Cup, by an average margin of 20 points – they have also won 37 of their last 42 home games altogether in the competition.
Gloucester reached the Round of 16 by finishing second in Pool B, winning three out of their four matches, while Saints finished 10th Heineken Champions Cup Pool A.
The match at Kingsholm Stadium kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and is available to stream on epcrugby.tv.
Nothing beats a comeback 😍@gloucesterrugby showed great character in the final round of the pool stages to win in Wales 👏#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/Uuplsrp7Kr
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) April 10, 2022
Other key facts:
- Northampton have won their last six games against English sides in the EPCR Challenge Cup, with four of those victories coming in the knockout stage of the competition.
- Northampton lost their last match in the EPCR Challenge Cup (v Ulster Rugby in 2020/21) but haven’t lost consecutive games in the competition since 1996-1997.
- Gloucester have averaged 5.8 tries per game in the EPCR Challenge Cup this season, more than any other team, although they’ve averaged the fewest carries per game of any team (88).
- Gloucester are one of just three teams to average seven or more dominant tackles per game in the EPCR Challenge Cup this season (7.0), along with London Irish (8.0) and Lyon (7.8).
- Gloucester have gained 95 metres from their maul in the EPCR Challenge Cup this season, more than any other club, while they’ve scored six tries directly from mauls, three times as many as any other team.
- Northampton are yet to lose a scrum on their own feed in European competition this season, winning each of their 16 completed scrums in the Heineken Champions Cup in 2021/22.
- Northampton’s Rory Hutchinson made 211 metres from his 14 carries in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. His average carry distance of 15.1 metres remains the best of any player to run with the ball on 12 or more occasions in the competition this season.
- Santiago Socino (Gloucester) scored three tries last weekend against the Dragons, the only hat-trick by any player so far this season in the EPCR Challenge Cup, and the first one for a hooker since Bristol’s Nic Fenton-Wells in January 2019 against RC Enisei.
Gloucester head coach George Skivington: “We want to put our best foot forward on Saturday. We know Saints well and it was a tough and tight encounter last time and I expect it to be fast and furious here on Saturday night.”
Northampton attack coach Sam Vesty: “It will be very much down to the game scenario, and how that’s playing, but ultimately you just need to win. There are no bonus points or anything like that, but we’re just focusing on giving ourselves the best chance of winning because being one point up at the end of the game is all that matters.”
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Gloucester Rugby reached the EPCR Challenge Cup quarter-finals after defeating Northampton Saints 31-21 in a feisty encounter at Kingsholm Stadium on Saturday.
They will now host either Saracens or Cardiff Rugby, who play on Sunday, in the last eight.
With seven tries and two red cards, this was a game not lacking in drama, although it looked as if Gloucester might cruise through after racing into a 21-0 lead in the first half.
However, Saints showed great commitment to battle their way back into the match.
Northampton had fly-half Dan Biggar red-carded for a dangerous tackle on 53 minutes, while Gloucester’s Alex Craig was sent off for violent play in the final minute.
Biggar hit the post with a second-minute penalty, and his side were soon under real pressure.
The driving maul 💪
No stopping @gloucesterrugby as Santiago Socino goes over to score 🍒#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/eJT7vrxlSV
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) April 16, 2022
Gloucester surged ahead with tries from Ollie Thorley, Val Rapava-Ruskin and Matías Alemanno, all converted by Adam Hastings.
Northampton had Alex Coles sin-binned for repeat team offending on 21 minutes, but they were right in it at the break, having hit back with tries from Juarno Augustus and Rory Hutchinson, Biggar converting both for 21-14.
A textbook driving maul saw Gloucester hooker Santiago Socino finish off their fourth try and Hastings converted.
Hastings then added a penalty after Biggar’s red card, but a try from Mike Haywood, converted by George Furbank, gave Saints hope.
However, Gloucester held firm and Craig’s late dismissal had no effect on the scoreline.
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