Gloucester Rugby won Pool 2 by winning five of their six matches but have been handed arguably the toughest task by playing host to Munster

Munster progressed from the ‘Pool of Death’ by showing a level of tenacity and determination that can only come from the men from Thomond Park.

Munster displayed their legendary will to win in epic battles against ASM Clermont Auvergne and London Wasps in Rounds 5 and 6. Wins that will live long in the memory and wins that saw them through to the Heineken Cup knockout stage for the tenth successive season.

And these two sides have Heineken Cup history. They have met four times in the past. Honours are even but no one will forget the ‘miracle match’ on January 18 2003.

Munster had to register a bonus point win and make sure Gloucester left Thomond Park with nothing – a big ask considering the form of the two sides going into the game.

When it mattered, Munster came good. The final score of 33-6 was enough to see Munster through and the game is forever to be known as the ‘Miracle Match’.

Gloucester want revenge. And they are in a good place to get it. Dean Ryan has built a team that have both power and flair. Throughout the side there are players who thrive off each other and played some of the most attractive rugby in the Pool stage.

Only in Round 5 did they taste defeat. The Ospreys won that particular battle but Dean Ryan would consider that a blip. The leaders of the Guinness Premiership have been one of best sides to watch in this season’s competition.

in what will be both teams debut appearance in the Heineken Cup knock-out stages just 15 days after they clashed in another sudden death encounter.

Gloucester have recalled Mike Tindall to their squad.  Tindall has not played since seriously damaging his liver against Wales in the first round of the Six Nations in February
But head coach Dean Ryan confirmed that the England centre will feature as a replacement. “The situation was pretty new for everybody,” said head coach Ryan on Tindall’s situation,” he said.

“We didn’t want to take a risk with Mike for the sake of one game and we left the decision pretty much to him. Needless to say, to have a player of his experience and understanding available for a game of this magnitude is huge for us.

“He has done everything that he needs to do – he will bring a level of expertise that are key in these games.”

The majority of Ryan’s line-up remains intact from the one that lost 17-14 to Worcester last weekend but there are also significant alterations.

Chris Paterson comes in on the wing in place of the injured Iain Balshaw, Peter Buxton returns to the blindside flank and Andy Hazell comes in for Akapusi Qera, who is also ruled out through injury.

Buxton has been an ever present in Gloucester’s Heineken Cup campaign so far this season and replaces Alasdair Strokosch. Because of injury, this will be Hazell’s first Heineken Cup appearance of the season and he will complete a back row alongside number eight Luke Narraway.

The rest of the forward pack remains unchanged. Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell and Carlos Nieto form the front row, while skipper Marco Bortolami and Alex Brown are the second rows.

“I say this regularly but this is a side picked purely on the challenges we face this weekend,” Ryan said. “The Heineken Cup is capable of doing unique things to individuals and we are up against a side who have a special relationship with this competition and we want to get to the levels they have attained in the past.

“For us, home advantage gives us a little bit more of a lift – it gives us more confidence and maybe could be the margin that works for us on the day.

“It is up to us to go out and put a performance together we can be proud of and if we can do that then we can definitely be a threat, of that I have no doubt.

“We want to be moving and if we can do that I am sure we can challenge Munster.”

The only change in the backs is the involvement of Paterson and he will make his 15 appearance of the season in all competitions. Rory Lawson and Ryan Lamb will partner each other at half-back, while Anthony Allen – who will make his 27th appearance of the season in all competitions and already has two tries in the Heineken Cup this season – and will line-up alongside James Simpson-Daniel in the centre.

Olly Morgan will wear the number 15 shirt and complete a back three alongside Lesley Vainikolo – who scored his eighth Guinness Premiership try last weekend – and Paterson.

“The balance of the side is good and we are ready,” Ryan said. “There has been so much interest and such a build up that we just want to get to the game now.”

On the bench, hooker Jeremy Paul will partner Alasdair Dickinson as Gloucester’s front row options. Will James and Gareth Delve will complete the four forwards, while scrum-half Gareth Cooper, Willie Walker and Tindall are the three-quarter replacements.