Preview: Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs

Date published: February 17 2017

Warriors have made just two changes to their starting line-up for this Saturday’s Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs at Sixways.

Back-row Dewald Potgieter returns to the squad following an ankle knock while Jaba Bregvadze replaces the injured Jack Singleton at hooker.

Elsewhere in the pack, Ryan Bower is rewarded with another Premiership start after impressing in last weekend’s win over Saracens, while Donncha O’Callaghan leads the side once again. The backline remains unchanged.

In the replacements, Joe Taufete’e could be set for his first Aviva Premiership appearance, after returning from the USA for the birth of his first child.

Val Rapava Ruskin is on the bench after recovering from a back problem while Sam Lewis is also in the squad.

Meanwhile, with Jonny Hill suspended for two weeks by the RFU, Exeter boss Rob Baxter is forced into change in the second row.

Into the side comes the vastly experienced Geoff Parling alongside Lees, while Harry Williams is promoted from the bench to fill the tighthead spot in place of Greg Holmes and Jack Yeandle is also elevated to the starting line-up with Luke Cowan-Dickie (knee) missing out this week.

Behind, international duo Henry Slade and Michele Campagnaro – both of whom have been away on Six Nations duty in recent weeks – form a more than useful midfield pairing.

On the bench, Shaun Malton and Tomas Francis offer front-row back-up, Thomas Waldrom gets the nod over Tom Johnson, while Ian Whitten drops down to offer cover in the back division having done well in last weekend’s display against Wasps.

Form: Worcester Warriors have won three of their last four first team matches whilst their only defeat in their last five matches at Sixways was 22-28 to Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 28 January. Exeter Chiefs are the best away side in the Premiership having garnered 22 league points from their seven trips so far this season. The Chiefs have drawn their last two games in the Premiership – no side has ever drawn three in succession. The two sides have met on nine previous occasions in Premiership Rugby with Chiefs winning all nine. Worcester’s most recent success over Exeter came at the old County Ground in Division One in March 2004.

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (c), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tevita Cavubati , 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Ben Howard

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Henry Slade, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Lachie Turner

Date: Saturday, February 18
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Paul Burton
TMO: Rowan Kitt