Preview: Worcester Warriors v Bath

Date published: February 12 2016

Director of Rugby Dean Ryan has made five changes to his Warriors side ahead of Saturday’s clash with Bath at Sixways.

Carl Kirwan is set for his first Premiership appearance for the club in the back row alongside Phil Dowson and skipper GJ van Velze, while Darren Barry comes into the second row to partner Donncha O’Callaghan.

Nick Schonert and Niall Annett are joined by Val Rapava Ruskin in the front row, as the prop is rewarded with a starting berth following his all-action showing off the bench against London Irish.

There are two changes to the backline with Tom Heathcote returning at fly-half and Andy Symons replacing Ryan Mills in the centre.

Meanwhile, this week’s new signing Dewald Potgieter could make his Warriors debut from the replacements bench.

Ryan said: “Last week was a game we thought we could win and it’s been a harsh review in every area this week.

“A win this weekend is the only answer. It doesn’t matter what we say now.  We do the damage on the rugby field and we can only repair it on the rugby field.

“Bath aren’t in good form by their standards but they’re still a class side so we won’t treat them as anything else.

“We’re looking forward to it and seeing a big response from everyone.”

Meanwhile, Bath fanker Guy Mercer will make his 100th Club appearance this Saturday at Sixways.

Notably, Academy player Adam Hastings will make his senior debut for Bath – after a commanding performance for Scotland U20 last weekend – as Japan international Amanaki Mafi also makes his first outing in the Blue, Black and White against Worcester Warriors. 

Full-back Tom Homer and wings Horacio Agulla and Semesa Rokoduguni are named in the back three. Matt Banahan moves to inside centre, while former England U20 star Max Clark comes in at 13. 

Debutant Hastings, who has thrilled in the Aviva 'A' League this season, starts at fly-half, partnered by Fiji international Niko Matawalu at scrum-half.

Nick Auterac, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas comprise the front row, with captain Stuart Hooper joined in the second row by Tom Ellis. Number eight Mafi starts alongside centurion Mercer and blindside Leroy Houston.

Form: Worcester Warriors have lost their last twelve matches in all tournaments sine beating La Rochelle at Sixways in the European Challenge Cup in November. The Warriors’ two victories at Sixways in Premiership Rugby this season were against Northampton in Round 1 and Newcastle in Round 4. Bath have lost their last six matches in all tournaments since beating Worcester 21-14 at the Recreation Ground in Round 7. Bath’s only victory on the road in Premriship Rugby this season came on a trip to London Irish in Round 4. Worcester’s solitary victory over Bath in their last 15 meetings in all competitions was 16-7 in Premiership Rugby at Sixways in November 2011. Bath’s overall record at the venue is played nine, won six, drawn one, lost two.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Andy Symons, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Luke Baldwin, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Dewald Potgieter, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Ryan Mills

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Leroy Houston, 5 Tom Ellis, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nick Auterac 
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 David Wilson, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Dominic Day, 21 Matt Garvey, 22 Jonathan Evans, 23 Jeff Williams

Date: Saturday, February 13
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Stuart Terheege