Gloucester seek kiss of life in France

GLOUCESTER face a fight for their Heineken Cup lives in the south of France tonight, with captain Marco Bortolami admitting: “We have only one chance.”

A Gloucester defeat against Pool Two hosts Agen – and a victory for Leinster against Edinburgh tomorrow – would signal the end for Bortolami and company in Europe this season.

Gloucester though, intend throwing everything at opponents whose shock 32-26 success on west country soil 11 weeks ago seriously hindered the Guinness Premiership club’s quarter-final ambitions.

Bortolami said: “Agen will play with big intensity, but we have everything we need to win this game.

“We have only one chance now, and I think it is the right pressure on the team. We have to perform, and we have to win.

“Agen try to play open rugby, so we have to be careful in defence and try not to give them opportunities to score tries, as we did when they played at Gloucester. They scored four tries from our mistakes.

“Last weekend, in the Premiership at Sale, we had two or three chances to score in the second half, but we didn’t take them and we lost by one point. We must not throw opportunities away.”

Head coach Dean Ryan makes a solitary change from the side edged out by Sale, with Christian Califano returning to face his former club, while Califano’s fellow prop Patrice Collazo, lock Will James and number eight Luke Narraway are all on bench duty.

Pool Six leaders Biarritz should secure their fifth successive Heineken Cup bonus-point victory by crushing Italian minnows Overmach Parma tonight, which would open up a 10-point lead on second-placed Northampton, who meet the Borders on Sunday.

AGEN: P Elhorga; D Vainqueur, M Ahotaeiloa, A Mignardi, R Caucaunibuca; J Miquel, N Morlaes (capt); L Cabarry, A Tiatia, A Galasso, W Stolz, S Socol, M Lievremont, F Culine, T Soucaze.

Replacements: J Narjissi, K Meeuws, C Popescu, C Yukes, A Fulton, M Faaletino, C Stoltz.

GLOUCESTER: O Morgan; J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall, A Allen, I Balshaw; R Lamb, R Lawson; C Califano, M Davies, C Nieto, M Bortolami (capt), A Brown, P Buxton, A Hazell, J Forrester.

Replacements: O Azam, P Collazo, W James, J Boer, P Richards, W Walker, M Foster.

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