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Preview: Worcester v Sale

25th September 2009 12:44

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charlie hodgson

Charlie Hodgson: Back for Sale

Back row Netani Talei returns to the starting line-up for Worcester Warriors as they prepare for the Guinness Premiership clash with Sale Sharks at Sixways Stadium on Saturday.

Fiji international Talei replaces Kai Horstmann and will make his first start of the season at number eight as the Warriors look to return to winning ways in the league.

Director of Rugby Mike Ruddock also makes a change at hooker with Aleki Lutui starting the game and Chris Fortey moving to the bench.

Fly-half Joe Carlisle has recovered from a knee injury to make the squad for the first time this season and is named among the replacements alongside fit again prop Shaun Ruwers.

"We expect a backlash from Sale after the lost to Bath. They will have a few players back and I expect they would have had a rocket from my old friend Kingsley Jones. He will have impressed on them the need to get back to winning ways," he said.

"They have a good record at Sixways Stadium and they be coming down here keen to put the record straight after last week.

"Our challenge is to turn that around. We have had a sequence of late in this fixture in that the away team wins so it's about time we put a stop to that. We must front up and be more precise than we were against Wasps last weekend to get a result.

"I will only criticise my team if they haven't put the effort in and physicality. Against Wasps we did that, we made 143 tackles and felt we destroyed their driving maul. Structurally we were good, but weren't clinical and precise with the ball in hand, that is what we have got to improve on."

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks welcome back fly-half Charlie Hodgson.

Hodgson has missed the last two games after stubbing his toe in the win over Leicester Tigers on the opening day of the season.

Oriol Ripol and Brent Cockbain make their first starts of the new season and Lee Thomas moves back into the centres after covering for Charlie Hodgson at fly-half.

" We are delighted to welcome back Charlie although I would like to thank Lee Thomas who has done a great job for us at fly-half in Charlie's absence," said Director of Rugby Kingsley Jones.

"We were very disappointed with last Friday's performance and have talked about it as a group and worked hard in our preparation this week. We know what we have to do, but it won't be easy against Worcester who are well coached by Mike Ruddock and have some quality players in their line up including Pat Sanderson and Sam Tuitupou."

Form: Worcester Warriors have won just one of their three matches so far, but have been victorious in four of their last five games at Sixways in all competitions. Sale Sharks have not won since their opening day victory over defending Guinness Premiership champions Leicester at Edgeley Park. The Sharks return to the site of their most recent away victory: 37-20 at Sixways on 31 January. Incredibly the last seven occasions that the teams have met have resulted in a victory for the AWAY side. Sale have won on their last four visits to Sixways since a 23-10 Warriors victory on 25 February 2005.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Adam Black, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Shaun Ruwers, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Rico Gear.

Sale Sharks: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Chris Jones, 7 David Seymour, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Brent Cockbain, 3 Eifion Roberts, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Jack Forster, 18 Gavin Kerr, 19 Neil Briggs, 20 David Tait, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Johnny Kennedy, 23 Chris Bell

Date: Saturday, September 25
Venue: Sixways Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00 BST
Referee: Rob Debney
Assistant referees: Andrew Pearce, Paul Dix
Assessor: Tony Spreadbury
Television match official: Matt Peters

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