Preview: Worcester v Saracens

Date published: May 6 2016

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Worcester Warriors will play their final match on grass at Sixways as their season concludes with a clash against Saracens on Saturday.

Dean Ryan makes five changes to the side which faced Leicester Tigers at Welford Road last time out as Na'ama Leleimalefaga, Donncha O'Callaghan, Dan Sanderson, Sam Betty and Luke Baldwin all come into the starting line-up.

Sanderson will make his final appearance for the club, as will Andy Symons, while Charlie Mulchrone and Alex Grove could also play their last game for Warriors as they are named amongst the replacements.

Ryan Mills partners Symons in the centre, while Chris Pennell, Bryce Heem and Cooper Vuna make up the back three.

The half-back combination sees Tom Heathcote partner Baldwin for the first time since February's clash with Bath.

Niall Annett and Nick Schonert retain their place alongside Leleimalefaga in the front-row, while O'Callaghan and Sanderson line-up in the second-row.

Phil Dowson will captain the side at number eight alongside Carl Kirwan and Betty.

"We want to be competitive so we've selected the side we think will be the most competitive," said Ryan.

"Saracens create a huge amount of pressure and have a huge amount of power. It's not about knowing what's coming, it's about dealing with it – and that's the challenge we've got.

"Trying to get points against the best in the country is tough but it's also part of our own development."

Heading into the final game of the regular season and with top spot already secured, Saracens boss Mark McCall continues to rotate his squad as hooker Jamie George is named to start after making a swift recovery from a bicep injury that sidelined the England front-rower during the Six Nations.

George takes his place in the Saracens front-row alongside Richard Barrington who makes his tenth start of the season for the club at loosehead prop – Petrus Du Plessis starts at tighthead prop.

At lock, Maro Itoje is rested for the game at Sixways with his Engalnd Grand Slam second-row partner George Kruis coming into the side to replace him. Kruis will pack down alongside Jim Hamilton in the heart of the Saracens engine room.

In the back-row, Jackson Wray moves to blindside flanker after a man of the match performance against Newcastle Falcons with Samu Vunisa coming in to the side at number eight – Kelly Brown is names as openside flanker.

In the halves, the experienced pairing of Neil De Kock and Charlie Hodgson start, with fly-half Hodgson leading out Saracens as captain for the second time this season, having previously skippered the team against Sale Sharks in round 14 of the Premiership back in February.

In the backs, Nick Tompkins comes in for Brad Barritt who is rested to partner Marcelo Bosch at centre. On the wings, Chris Ashton and Chris Wyles continue whilst Alex Goode comes back into the side at full-back.

Form: Worcester Warriors have slipped to three maximum point Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats since beating London Irish at Sixways on 26th March. Saracens have already ensured a home semi-final spot and number one seeding in three of the last four years. Saracens are unbeaten since they visited Leicester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 20th March. Saracens have won their last four Premiership Rugby encounters with Worcester since Warriors 12-3 victory at Sixways in November 2012.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Andy Symons, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Luke Baldwin, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Dan Sanderson, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Na'ama Leleimalefaga
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 James Johnston, 19 Charlie Hewitt, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Alex Grove

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson (c), 9 Neil De Kock, 8 Samu Vunisa, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 George Kruis, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Will Fraser, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Tim Streather, 23 Ben Ransom

Date: Saturday, May 7
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:30 BST (14:30 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Andy Watson, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury

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