Preview: Worcester v Sale Sharks

Date published: February 21 2014

James Percival will return for Warriors as Sale Sharks visit Sixways in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.

James Percival will return for Warriors as Sale Sharks visit Sixways in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.

The giant lock is one of two changes to the side which faced Northampton Saints last weekend.

Mike Williams also comes in at flanker in place of Jonathan Thomas, who misses the game after his red card at Franklin's Gardens.

Ofa Fainga'anuku, Agustin Creevy and John Andress retain their places in the front-row, while Mariano Galarza is named in the second-row.

Leonardo Senatore moves to number eight, alongside flanker Sam Betty. Paul Warwick and Jonny Arr remain the half-back combination in a backline which also features Chris Pennell, Josh Drauniniu, Alex Grove, Ravai Fatiaki and David Lemi.

“I've been pleased with the group over the last couple of weeks,” said Warriors Director of Rugby Dean Ryan.

“This is an opportunity to put in another shift and, if we reach the level we have in the last two weeks, we might get something from it.

“We're getting some unity around the group week after week and, if we can do it again, we will cause problems for Sale.

“We've given everybody a chance throughout the season and there have been some positions where we didn't get clarity so chances for people just kept rolling.

“Sometimes throwing somebody else into the mix forces somebody else to try and get better and it works.

“We've closed the gap in terms of what we need physically and emotionally we can do it again this weekend.”

Meanwhile, Mark Cueto is looking forward to achieving another milestone in his illustrious career when he runs out onto the pitch at Sixways for his 200th appearance in the Premiership as a Sale Sharks player.

He already holds the record for the number of career tries with 84, the first of which was scored on his Premiership debut, away to Bristol back in 2001.

Mark broke team mate Steve Hanley's record of 75 tries when he crossed the line against Exeter Chiefs in February 2013 and this season he has already scored six in 13 appearances (three at the AJ Bell Stadium and three on his travels).

“I am looking forward to running out at Sixways, it's another milestone in my career that I have enjoyed thoroughly since my debut at Bristol all those years ago,” said Cueto.

“I have had the pleasure of playing with and against some great players and I am still enjoying my rugby.

“Hopefully with signing a new deal I will be able to build on the 84 tries I have scored in the Premiership.”

Form: Worcester Warriors have lost their last 19 Premiership fixtures, only Rotherham have a worse sequence, with 30 successive losses between 2001-2004.

The Warriors have not scored more than one try in a game in the tournament since round two.

Sale Sharks were defeated 10-15 at home to Saracens on Friday but have picked up at least one league point from their last eight encounters.

The Sharks won their most recent away game in the tournament at Newcastle but have not managed to win back-to-back matches on the road since the start of the 2008/09 season.

Sale have won their last five encounters with Worcester in all competitions since the Warriors' 23-16 victory at Sixways in the Premiership on Boxing Day 2012.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 David Lemi, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Pervical, 3 John Andress, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 George Porter, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dean Hammond

Sale Sharks: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Daniel Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Vilami Fihaki, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Mark Jennings

Date: Saturday 22nd February
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 1400 (local and GMT)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (Eng)
Assistant referees: Simon McConnell, Andrew Pearce (both Eng)
TMO: David Grashoff (Eng)