Preview: Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons

Date published: November 6 2015

Val Rapava Ruskin Worcester Warriors 2015

Worcester Warriors' new wing Bryce Heem will go straight into action for his new side when they host Newcastle Falcons at Sixways on Saturday.

The Kiwi, who joined Worcester from Super Rugby side the Chiefs, forms a potent back three alongside full-back Chris Pennell and fellow winger Cooper Vuna.

There is a recall in the Warriors' midfield for Alex Grove where he'll link up with Ryan Mills.

In the forwards, Val Rapava Ruskin earns his first start in the front row this season alongside Niall Annett and Nick Schonert.

Darren Barry is back in the starting line-up in place of Tevita Cavubati to partner Donncha O'Callaghan while the back row remains unchanged with Phil Dowson, Marco Mama and skipper GJ van Velze at number eight.

Georgian hooker Jaba Bregvadze could also make his Warriors debut from the bench.

Worcester's director of rugby Dean Ryan said: "We're quite pleased with where we are and how we're playing. We just need to nail down some wins and stop being plucky losers. This group has come back, worked hard and is ready to go again.

"We wanted to get some momentum early on in the season and this game is a chance to keep up that momentum.

"The Premiership is competitive week in week out. Newcastle have been in there a couple of years and will be adept at the things they need to survive. Every single game is a huge challenge for us.

"We're expecting everybody to come out and get behind us so let's see if we can get another good performance on the board.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have made five changes to their starting fifteen, with three new faces in the backline and two in the pack.

Freshly returned from Rugby World Cup duties with Argentina, Juan Pablo Socino makes a first start of the season for the club at inside centre, taking over from Adam Powell who continues to recover from a strain picked up last Sunday.

Joining Socino in the centres, Chris Harris returns from the minor soft tissue injury that ruled him out of last week's home game to outside centre, taking over from Tom Penny.

With Simon Hammersley still nursing the knock he picked up in last week's game, Alex Tait switches from wing to full back, with Alesana Tuilagi taking the vacated number 11 shirt.

Giamba Venditti, Mike Delany and Michael Young continue as right wing, fly half and scrum half respectively.

In the pack, a straight swap at loose head prop sees club stalwart Rob Vickers take over the number 1 shirt from Eric Fry, who moves to the replacement bench, while Scottish internationals Scott Lawson and Jon Welsh remain at hooker and tight head prop.

A change in the second row engine room sees Kane Thompson return from World Cup commitments and an injury picked up on that, to partner with former England lock Mouritz Botha, while the back row continues to be made of captain Will Welch at six, Nili Latu at seven and Ally Hogg at eight.

On the bench, George McGuigan and Taione Vea join Fry in providing front row options, while Sean Robinson makes his first appearance in a match day squad this season as he continues his comeback to fitness.

Todd Clever completes the forward contingent in the replacements, with Ruki Tipuna, Tom Catterick and Tom Penny ready to provide options in the backs.

Form: Worcester Warriors have lost their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby matches at Sale and at Gloucester, however at Sixways they have achieved back-to-back wins 17 months apart and have not won three in a row in the competition at the venue since December 2012. Newcastle Falcons suffered their worst Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat since season 2009/10, and their worst ever home reversal in going down 3-41 to Exeter Chiefs at Kingston Park on Sunday. The Falcons only victory in the tournament since Round 13 last season was at home to Harlequins on 16 May. Worcester have lost just once to Newcastle in their last five Premiership Rugby encounters: 16-11 at Sixways in October 2013 on the Falcons most recent visit to the venue. 

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Marco Mama, 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 Joe Rees, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Ben Howard.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Giamba Venditti, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Will Welch, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Ruki Tipuna, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Tom Penny.

Date: Saturday, November 7
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Paul Dix
TMO: Stuart Terheege

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