Preview: Worcester v Saracens

Date published: February 23 2012

Fly-half Andy Goode returns for Worcester as they host Aviva Premiership champions Saracens at Sixways Stadium on Friday.

Fly-half Andy Goode returns for Worcester Warriors as they host Aviva Premiership champions Saracens at Sixways on Friday.

Goode is one of four changes made by Head Coach Richard Hill as the Warriors look to build on an impressive start to 2012 on home soil.

Errie Claassens is named at full-back while Chris Pennell moves to wing with Marcel Garvey ruled out. Shaun Perry will again captain the team from scrum-half.

“We will be without Marcel as he is still suffering from concussion sustained against Harlequins,” said Hill.

“First and foremost is the welfare of our players and Marcel will be given as much time as he needs to make a full recovery. This will mean a reshuffle in the back line.”

Two changes in the pack see Aleki Lutui named at hooker while lock Chris Jones is named in the second-row alongside James Percival.

“Our last four league fixtures have seen us play three away from Sixways and so we always knew it was going to be a difficult period. However, the team has responded magnificently,” added Hill.

“We now enter a series of four games out of six at home and so this is the time to press on.

“Although Saracens are missing players on international duty, they still possess a powerful squad and many big performers. It's an exciting challenge for the Warriors.”

Meanwhile, full-back Alex Goode will make his 100th appearance for Saracens.

In team news ahead of the game, Director of Rugby Mark McCall makes five changes to his starting line-up.

In the forwards, number eight Ernst Joubert returns from injury to captain the side with second-row Hugh Vyvyan also starting and Will Fraser coming into the back-row.

In the backs, Michael Tagicakibau takes up a spot on the wing while centre Joel Tomkins will make his first start in the Aviva Premiership.

On the bench, prop Petrus du Plessis returns while second-row Eoin Sheriff is in line to make his Aviva Premiership debut.

Scrum-half Peter Stringer returns while wings Joe Maddock and James Short are also named among the replacements.

Form: Worcester Warriors have slipped to successive narrow defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby – against Sale and Harlequins. The Warriors' only loss at Sixways in their last six encounters in all competitions was 13-32 to Leicester on 27 December. Saracens' eleven match unbeaten run ended on Sunday with their loss to Leicester by the smallest margin possible. Sarries have won five in a row away from home since their 8-30 reversal to the Saints at Franklin's Gardens on 26 November. Worcester have not beaten Saracens since their 22-8 victory at Sixways on 4 April 2009 – their only win over Sarries since 2007. The Warriors' solitary victory at Vicarage Road was 20-17 on 26 November 2006.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Chris Pennell, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry (c), 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 George Porter, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert (c), 7 Andy Saull, 6 Will Fraser, 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 George Kruis, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 John Smit.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Joe Maddock, 23 James Short.

Date: Friday, February 24
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 19:45
Referee: JP Doyle