Planet Rugby

Preview: Worcester v London Wasps

20th March 2014 10:11

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SKY_MOBILE Euan Murray Worcester Aviva Premiership

Back for Worcester: Euan Murray

Scotland international Euan Murray returns to the Worcester side to face London Wasps at Sixways on Friday.

The tighthead lines up alongside Ofa Fainga'anuku and Agustin Creevy in the front-row as Warriors search for their first league win of the season.

Winger Josh Drauniniu also returns to the side in place of the injured Dean Hammond whilst the rest of the starting line-up remains unchanged from the narrow defeat at Harlequins in Round 16.

Mike Williams keeps his place in the back-row next to Sam Betty and Jonathan Thomas, whilst James Percival and Mariano Galarza occupy the second-row.

Jonny Arr starts at scrum-half whilst Ryan Lamb keeps his place at stand-off alongside Ravai Fatiaki and Alex Grove in the centre. David Lemi starts on the left wing with Chris Pennell at full-back.

Andy Symons is named in the replacements and could be in line to make his first Warriors appearance since December after being sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Richard de Carpentier and Ignacio Mieres are also recalled to the squad for the crucial encounter.

"We know we stare at relegation if we can't win at Newcastle and winning against Wasps is the key to being successful at Kingston Park," said Director of Rugby Dean Ryan.

"Relegation has sat heavy over the club since losing to London Irish and Newcastle at home early in the season. The stakes are that high."

"Ryan Lamb coming in has given a bit of direction and a bit of freshness to the squad. Some guys have also grown in confidence because they're part of the picture going forward and there has been a response from them. Those sorts of things have allowed us to stay reasonably buoyant."

"I don't think the winning a game pressure is an issue. It's the magnitude of not winning the game which is the suffocating pressure."

"The most important focus for us now isn't that we are running out of time and games."

"It's that pure focus of winning at Kingston Park which will be easier if we can get a win under our belts this Friday."

Meanwhile, Wasps boss Dai Young has named a strong side to travel to the midlands, which includes Joe Launchbury, Matt Mullan and Andrea Masi, who all return to black and gold having been on international duty for the Six Nations.

Form: The Warriors have not won in the Premiership since they beat Wasps in this equivalent fixture last season, also coincidentally a round 17 encounter. 16 defeats from 16 games for Dean Ryan's troops does not make for pretty reading but they came so close against Harlequins last time out in the league, eventually going down 21-20. Wasps are hardly firing on all cylinders either at the moment with five defeats from their last five in all competitions.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Jonathan Thomas (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Percival, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Semisi Taulava, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Andy Symons.

London Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 James Short, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 James Haskell, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Ricky Reeves, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Tom Palmer, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Charlie Hayter.

Date: Friday 21th March
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 1945 (local & GMT)
Referee: Andrew Small (RFU)
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden, Paul Dix (both RFU)
TMO: David Grashoff (RFU)

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