Preview: Worcester v Newcastle

Date published: October 4 2013

Newcastle boss Dean Richards has made two changes to his starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash with Worcester at Sixways.

Newcastle boss Dean Richards has made two changes to his starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash with Worcester at Sixways.

Rob Vickers replaces Franck Montanella at loosehead prop while Carlo del Fava returns to the second row alongside Dom Barrow.

Richards sticks with the same back-line with wing Ryan Shortland making a welcome return to the bench.

“It's a massive game, but it's still very early days,” said skipper Will Welch, who is relishing the challenge that Dean Ryan's men will pose.

“At the same time if we get a win at Sixways that would certainly boost our confidence.

“Obviously it's going to be a tough task and they will give us a hell of a battle, but after training very well this week hopefully we can get the result that we want,” he added.

Head coach Peter Russell is looking for a reaction from his side after only picking up a losing bonus point last Sunday.

“Worcester is a tough place to travel to and what more can you say about Sixways – there will undoubtedly be a big atmosphere down there with two teams fighting for the points,” he said.

“Hopefully we can keep the crowd relatively quiet by getting points on the board. We just need to build on the pressure that we put on them , making sure that we are controlling the scoreboard.”

Meanwhile, Jeremy Becasseau returns to loosehead prop as Warriors search for their first win of the season.

The Frenchman missed last weekend's clash with London Wasps but is handed his third start of the campaign for the visit of last season's RFU Championship winners.

Becasseau's inclusion is the only change director of rugby Dean Ryan has made to the team which began the Wasps encounter.

Ed Shervington and Euan Murray complete the front row, whilst Mike Williams partners Chris Jones at lock.

Captain Jonathan Thomas will start alongside Jake Abbott and Semisi Taulava in the back row.

Apart from scrum-half Paul Hodgson, the entire back-line have started every match this season and will line-up together again as Warriors aim to make it third time lucky on their return to Sixways.

There is more good news for boss Ryan as Paul Warwick and Alex Grove return to the bench after injury lay-offs, whilst Cam Goodhue could get his first Warriors appearance from the bench.

Ryan said: “We've got to learn from the Wasps game. Tactically, this group are learning off each other and trying to get things right.

“We're four games together and intensity is a recurring word for us but that's just part of the challenge of growing this group.

“There isn't one answer to that. It's not one thing we forgot to say in the changing room. It's about growing in scenarios together.

“Newcastle have had a year together led by Dean Richards and John Wells, who are good coaches. They've picked some good kids up and they put a lot of pressure on teams.

“I'm not surprised in the least that they've been competing well.”

Form: Worcester Warriors have slipped to nine straight defeats – their worst run in professional rugby. The Warriors have been defeated in their last four clashes at Sixways in Aviva Premiership Rugby, since beating Wasps there 29-23 in March. Newcastle Falcons only win so far was 15-14 at Sale in round 2, whilst they scored their only try of the season so far just 52 seconds into their round 4 home defeat to Gloucester at Kingston Park on Sunday. The Falcons only victory over the Warriors in their last nine meetings in all competitions was 14-3 at Kingston Park in the Premiership in November 2009. Newcastle have not been victorious at Sixways since September 2004.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Jonathan Thomas (c), 5 Chris Jones, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Jeremy Becasseau.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 George Porter, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Cam Goodhue, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Alex Grove.

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Carlo del Fava, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Franck Montanella, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Chris York, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 Ryan Shortland

Date: Saturday, October 5
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Sixways
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees : Andrew Pearce and Nigel Carrick
TMO: Geoff Warren