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Preview: Leicester v Worcester

29th March 2012 12:36

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tom croft

Tom Croft: Back in the Tigers pack

International trio Tom Croft, Martin Castrogiovanni and Alesana Tuilagi return to the Leicester's line-up to tackle Worcester at Welford Road on Friday.

Croft and Castrogiovanni were selected among the replacements in last weekend's win at London Irish, with England loose forward Croft claiming the bonus-point try in the last minute of the game.

Tuilagi returns after missing the Exiles match due to illness and centre Anthony Allen is included in the backline for the first time since his recovery from a knee injury.

Ed Slater and Sam Harrison also return to the matchday squad after injury.

Meanwhile, Worcester number eight Blair Cowan has been recalled to the Warriors' starting line-up.

Cowan is rewarded for a sensational display off the bench against Newcastle Falcons last week with a starting spot as coach Richard Hill makes just two changes to a winning side.

Flanker Matt Kvesic is also named in the back row, alongside Sam Betty, as Jake Abbott is ruled out with a twisted ankle.

Joe Carlisle (thumb), Errie Claassens (knee), Andy Short (shoulder) and Richard Muagututia (cheek) are also unavailable due to injury.

"Leicester are playing at the top of their game at the moment, they are a fantastic team, so we are under no illusions that our defence has to be the best that it has this season," said Hill.

"They're capable of putting pressure on you 80 minutes so it's going to have to be a huge defensive performance and to beat them.

"We are going to have to score tries, it's not going to be one of those games where there's going to be three to six points in it by penalty kicks.

"They will keep the ball in hand and they have to get a try bonus point against us because they have got a tough run-in.

"We are going to be prepared for that so we are going to have to score at the other end as well. With that in mind we are going to have to find some chinks in the Leicester armoury, and there's not many there."

Form: Leicester Tigers have won their last six matches in all competitions and are the only team in Aviva Premiership Rugby to have scored over 50 tries this campaign, in fact scoring 11 more than any other side. Tigers are unbeaten in their last eleven encounters at Welford Road. Worcester Warriors' last ten matches in all tournaments have been won by the home side on the day. Worcester's only victory away from home in the Premiership since April 2009 was 6-0 at London Wasps on New Year's Day 2012. Leicester have won their last five fixtures against the Warriors, whilst Worcester have never won in their nine previous to Welford Road since 1895.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 James Grindal, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Craig Newby, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Smith, 23 George Ford.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry (c), 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Bruce Douglas, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Date: Friday , March 30
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
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